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Certified Public Finance Officer (Governmental Accounting, Auditing, and Financial Reporting)
Financial (Governmental reality

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Certified Public Finance Officer (Governmental Accounting,
Auditing, and Financial Reporting)
Question: 198
Most States require that local government engage the services of an _________ firm to
audit their financial statements.
A. Government accountability office
B. Certified public accounting firm
C. Government finance officers association
D. None of these
Answer: B
Question: 199
The auditor(s) should:
I- Adequately plan the work and properly supervise assistants
II- Properly study internal accounting controls to determine their reliability
These points are the part of
A. General Standards
B. Field work Standards
C. Reporting Standards
D. All of these
Answer: B
Question: 200
The auditors provide _______________ of the reliability of the financial statements.
A. Reasonable assurance
B. Sample
C. Material misstatement
D. None of these
Answer: A
Question: 201
Which of the following opinions is not expressed by auditors as to whether financial
statements are expressed fairly in all material respects with respect to generally accepted
accounting principles?
A. Unqualified opinion
B. Qualified opinion
C. Disclaimer
D. Reversal opinion
Answer: D
Question: 202
If a reportable condition might result in a material misstatement of financial statements,
then it must be noted as a:
A. Material weakness
B. Unqualified report
C. Revised situation
D. Adverse condition
Answer: A
Question: 203
Which of the following danger sign/s help to detect Auditors fraud?
A. Borrowing small amounts from fellow employees
B. Pronounced criticism of others, endearing to divert suspicion
C. Replying to Questions with unreasonable explanations
D. All of these
Answer: D
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Financial (Governmental reality - BingNews Search results Financial (Governmental reality - BingNews Biden signs debt ceiling bill, averting government default

Two days before the Treasury Department estimated it would run out of money to pay the nation’s debts, President Biden signed into law on Saturday a bill that suspends the debt ceiling, cuts federal spending and averts a government default as part of a deal that ended months of partisan wrangling.

In an Oval Office address on Friday night, Biden said that in addition to preventing the dire financial consequences of a default, the measure would maintain gains from the wide-ranging agenda he had pushed through during his first two years in office.

And it bolstered the argument that is expected to be at the heart of his pitch for a second term: that he is a seasoned, competent leader who is able to deliver results in a polarized nation.

“Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher,” Biden said. “No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed. We averted an economic crisis and an economic collapse.”

Inside the Biden, McCarthy debt ceiling deal

The White House announced his signature to the measure with little fanfare. A statement thanked the top House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle “for their partnership.”

The White House opted not to hold the sort of celebratory ceremony that often attends hard-fought legislation, a reflection of the difficult compromises made by both sides and the reality that many in each party remain dissatisfied and even angry at the final product.

The passage of the budget agreement had the additional benefit for Biden of postponing any additional debt limit standoffs until after the 2024 election.

The debt measure joins other bipartisan bills from Biden’s presidency, including measures that invested in the nation’s infrastructure, bolstered semiconductor manufacturing, addressed gun violence and helped veterans exposed to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those bills came at a time when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, albeit by razor-thin margins. The debt ceiling deal arguably comes amid a more difficult landscape — five months after Republicans took control of the House, leaving Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to preside over his own narrow majority that includes a significant faction of hard-line conservatives.

In his remarks Friday, Biden went out of his way to praise the speaker. The two leaders had met three times in exact months as the debt ceiling negotiations intensified.

What’s in the bill to raise the debt limit?

“I want to commend Speaker McCarthy,” the president said. “You know, he and I, we and our teams, were able to get along, get things done. We were straightforward with one another, completely honest with one another and respectful with one another. Both sides operated in good faith. Both sides kept their word.”

The Senate approved the debt measure Thursday night on a 63-to-36 vote, allowing Biden just days to sign it before Monday, when the government would no longer be able to pay all of its bills without borrowing more.

The deal, which cleared the House 314 to 117 on Wednesday, suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025. The Congressional Budget Office says the legislation will reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

Still, both leaders may yet have a political price to pay. The most outspoken House conservatives remain furious at McCarthy, saying he gave away his leverage and won few concessions. And some liberals are bitter at the provisions accepted by Biden, including additional work requirements for welfare recipients and easier permitting for fossil fuel projects.

Sat, 03 Jun 2023 05:53:19 -0500 en-US text/html
Red 6 Raises $70M for Augmented Reality Training Platform; Boeing, Lockheed Among Investors

Red 6 has raised $70 million in a Series B funding round meant to help the augmented reality startup to continue investing in its proprietary technology for a combat pilot training system. 

RedBird Capital Partners led the financing round, in which Lockheed Martin‘s venture capital arm and Boeing‘s investment partnership with AE Industrial Partners participated, Red 6 said Thursday.

The Orlando, Florida-based startup intends to use the new capital to expand applications of the Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality System.

ATARS is designed for pilots and ground personnel to learn about aircraft operations in a simulated outdoor environment.

“I firmly believe that to revolutionize the defense industrial base in our country, there is an increasing interdependence between the Department of Defense, the entrepreneur and private capital,” said Daniel Robinson, founder and CEO of Red 6.

The Florida Opportunity Fund, which backs emerging companies in the state, and the U.K. government’s National Security Strategic Investment Fund also contributed to the funding round.

Sun, 04 Jun 2023 21:49:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Whom do you blame for high house prices? Nearly half of young Americans are pointing a finger at the government.

As the cost of owning a home has skyrocketed over the past few years, some Americans are venting their frustrations by blaming the government for high housing prices.

Nearly 90% of Americans said it’s too expensive to purchase a home right now, according to a survey by Mphasis Digital Risk of 1,386 people 46 years old and younger. 

Many of those respondents called out the government’s lack of action in boosting housing affordability. 

The survey indicated that 45% blamed state and local governments for current housing prices, while 70% said that the government hasn’t done a good job of making housing affordable.

Don’t miss: How to win a bidding war on an in-demand house, according to real-estate mogul Barbara Corcoran

Also read: Mortgage rates rise to highest level in six months. ‘Demand is likely to weaken,’ Freddie Mac says.

“It makes sense, especially following the Great Financial Crisis, that younger Americans are experiencing a sense of fear of missing out when it comes to owning a home, and that they would vent those frustrations toward governments at all levels,” Jeff Taylor, founder and managing director at Mphasis Digital Risk, said in a statement. 

Part of that anger stems from tight consumer-protection rules and restrictions on lenders, the survey said. 

Lenders have strict rules that are set by the government to ensure borrowers are able to repay their debt. These rules were born out of a desire to be more cautious after the subprime mortgage crisis and the so-called Great Recession nearly two decades ago. Poor underwriting practices played a big part in the subprime mortgage crisis, the International Monetary Fund concluded in 2008.

The other side of frustration is with local zoning laws that restrict the kind of housing that is built, the survey found. The U.S. historically has had a preference for single-family homes and land ownership, Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said in a MarketWatch podcast earlier this year. But building a single-family home means fewer housing units will be created, as compared to building a town house or an apartment.

To be sure, government regulation isn’t the only reason housing has become so costly in the U.S. Market dynamics — high demand and low supply — are also a key factor.

The cost of homeownership has risen sharply over the last two years, as home prices took off, followed by mortgage rates, which have doubled in a brief span, according to data from Freddie Mac The median price of an existing home in the U.S. was $388,800 as of April, the National Association of Realtors said. The median price for an existing home was down 1.7% to $388,800 in April as compared with April 2022. That drop was the largest since January 2012, when home prices were 2% from year-earlier levels. 

Hesitance among homeowners to sell is a factor in creating a shortage of houses available for buyers can purchase. The New York Fed estimated that 14 million mortgages were refinanced during the pandemic, and many of those homeowners will find few reasons to swap out a rate that’s below 4% for one of 7%.

Many of these homeowners have also seen their property values appreciate in value over the last few years, and selling could saddle some with a hefty tax bill.

Both of these factors are contributing to a squeeze in supply, which is leading to competition in some parts of the U.S.

And on the demand side there’s noteworthy interest among the millennial generation in purchasing housing. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, have overtaken baby boomers to become the largest population cohort in 2019, Freddie Mac said in 2021. “Our research confirms,” said the government-sponsored enterprise, “that millennials [will be] a major force in the home-buying and mortgage business for years to come.”

Sun, 04 Jun 2023 11:18:00 -0500 en-US text/html
The Government Segregated America. Here’s How Everyday People Desegregate It

Hi, I’m Aaron Sankin, and I’m a reporter here at The Markup. My beat is nominally the intersection of technology and inequality, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m actually a real estate reporter.

A couple of years ago, I published an investigation into a piece of predictive policing software called PredPol. We (and our publishing partners at Gizmodo) analyzed over five million PredPol predictions to determine which neighborhoods were targeted most frequently by the software. When it was published, the story got a nod in a newsletter called Today in Tabs, which said “PredPol is a company that uses advanced machine learning algorithms to tell police departments where Black people live.”

I steal this joke about 75 percent of the time I talk about the story (because it’s a good line), but something about it has stuck with me. This algorithm, which supposedly tells cops where crime is most likely to strike, can only disproportionately target Black neighborhoods because there are Black neighborhoods in the first place. The premise of this investigation, and the inequality it uncovered, rests on the bedrock reality that America is defined by widespread residential housing segregation along racial lines almost everywhere you look. 

It’s not just crime prediction algorithms that disproportionately target where Black people live. An investigation I published last year showed these neighborhoods tended to get the worst deals for internet services. And when I looked at a shady auto insurance pricing scheme proposed by insurance giant Allstate, I discovered the people most likely to be harmed lived disproportionately in non-White areas. 

Over and over, I keep backing my way into the same story: the places where marginalized people in America live repeatedly get the short end of the stick when it comes to, well, basically everything that can be distributed geographically.

All of this is why when I first discovered Richard Rothstein’s book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” last year, I absolutely could not shut up about it. The book makes a provocative argument—one that, once you accept it, functions like a codex slotting so much of American history into place.

Residential housing segregation, Rothstein argues, didn’t just happen. It wasn’t the result of the individual prejudices of millions of people aligning so they just so happened to live next to people who looked like them. Instead, the creation of neighborhoods, defined primarily by White people not living there, was the result of specific, deliberate policies of the United States government. For example, the federal government subsidized both the construction of White-only subdivisions and the mortgages of the White families that moved into them, creating the financial engine that’s driven the American middle class for generations, while largely excluding Black families from the same opportunities.

In a new book, “Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law,” Rothstein and his daughter Leah, a community organizer and housing policy consultant, insist that all of us need to be responsible for ending it. The book is partly a history of how institutions like government agencies and real estate developers enforced and profited from segregation. And it is partly a how-to guide for everyday folks looking to make a real difference.

I spoke with Richard and Leah Rothstein about their book and the small steps necessary to fix the problem that seems to be at the heart of everything. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Caption: Leah Rothstein (left) and Richard Rothstein (right) Credit:Credits: Michelle Poulin (left); Judy Licht Photography (right)

Sankin: How did you first get interested in the Topic of housing segregation?

Richard: I was an education policy writer, covering public education primarily. I was, for a while, the national education columnist at The New York Times, writing a weekly column on education policy. I came to the conclusion that the most serious problem facing American public education was the concentration of the most disadvantaged young people in schools that became overwhelmed with the social and economic problems of their students. 

Schools are segregated because the neighborhoods in which they are located are segregated.

I remember I wrote one column about asthma. African American children, as you probably know, have asthma at four times the rate, in some places, as White children because they live in more polluted neighborhoods—more diesel trucks driving by their homes, more dilapidated buildings, more vermin in the environment. If a child has asthma, that child is more likely to be up at night wheezing and then coming to school drowsy the next day. On average, a drowsy child is not going to achieve as well as a well-rested child. It makes a tiny difference, but then you add up all the disadvantages that children who are in low-income segregated neighborhoods come to school with—asthma, lead poisoning, homelessness, economic insecurity—you begin to explain the achievement gap.

I began to consider segregated schools to be the most serious problem facing American public education. And schools are segregated because the neighborhoods in which they are located are segregated. Neighborhoods are more segregated today than they have been at any time in the past 50 years. 

That’s how I came to this topic. I began to look into how the neighborhoods came to be segregated. 

In 2007, I read a Supreme Court decision that prohibited the school districts in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle from desegregating their schools in a very trivial way: If there was competition for the last remaining place in a school, the choice would be given to the child who would help desegregate the school. It was a trivial program; you don’t have one place left very often in a school and have both a Black and a White child apply for it. 

But the Supreme Court denounced it. And it denounced it on the basis that the neighborhoods in Louisville and Seattle where these schools are located were segregated de facto: just by private prejudice. Discriminatory actions by businesses, people’s self-choice. 

A White homeowner in a single-family home in an all-White suburb of Louisville had an African American friend in the center of the city, a decorated Navy veteran with a wife and child. [He] wanted to move to a single-family home, but nobody would sell him one. The White homeowner bought a second home in the suburb and resold it to his African American friend. When the African American family moved in, an angry mob surrounded the home protected by the police. They dynamited the home, they firebombed it. And when the riot was all over, the White homeowner was arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed for 15 years for sedition. For having sold a home to a Black family. 

I said to myself, this doesn’t sound to me like de facto segregation. I began to look into it further, and that’s how I came to write “The Color of Law.” In Louisville, the police are agents of the state government. This wasn’t de facto segregation; it was a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment for the police to be organizing and protecting that mob. This happened in hundreds of places. And there were many other policies of the federal, state, and local government that were equally racially explicitly designed to ensure segregation. 

Sankin: The idea that segregation is the result of individual decisions stemming from individual prejudices of average, everyday folks—how did that mythology develop?

We have a responsibility to remedy it. Our government took unconstitutional actions, and therefore the government and we—as citizens and residents—have an obligation to do something about it.

Leah: This notion that it’s personal choice, that we like to live around people who look like us, that it happened by accident—when we believe that, we don’t believe there is anything we can do about it. We don’t believe we have a responsibility to do anything about it. Something that happens by accident can only un-happen by accident.

But if we really start to accept and understand the history, the true history like what’s outlined in “The Color of Law”—that it was intentional action by all levels of government and private actors who were incentivized or required by the government to create segregated communities—then we see we have a responsibility to remedy it. Our government took unconstitutional actions, and therefore the government and we—as citizens and residents—have an obligation to do something about it. 

Sankin: One of the things that you wrote about in the book is how there were these financial institutions and home builders that refused to sell to African Americans.

Many of these institutions still exist today, in some form or another, and you make the argument that these institutions have a special responsibility to rectify these problems that they either caused or sat back and benefited from. Can you talk about the specific actors that benefit from this and now have a responsibility to try to rectify it?

Richard: In Charlottesville, we talk about one particular community where a restrictive racial covenant identified the bank and the real estate agency and the developer that cooperated with the federal government, which was subsidizing the development, that created this segregated community for White people only. The bank was absorbed by a larger bank; it’s now the Virginia National Bank. The real estate company was absorbed by a larger real estate company, Howard Hanna real estate, a prominent national real estate firm. And the developer is still in existence today. It used to be named for Robert E. Lee. After the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, they changed their name just to Lee Building Company. 

Each of those three institutions still exists today. Those successors not only absorbed the financial liabilities of the real estate agency and the banks that they absorbed, respectively, but the moral responsibilities as well. 

Sankin: What sorts of policies do you see being necessary in opening up, literally or metaphorically, gated communities to a wider set of folks?

Leah: One strategy that some communities and a few states have already adopted, and which several others are considering, is changing zoning law. That is a locally controlled policy. Often, these exclusive communities are zoned only to allow for single-family homes to be built in them. It’s called exclusionary zoning. It took the place of race-based zoning when that was outlawed. By ensuring these communities only allow single-family homes, often on large lots, it limits the amount of housing that can be built in that community. It ensures that the only housing there will be expensive—unaffordable to low-income families and moderate-income families that don’t have intergenerational wealth to pay for a down payment.

White people were subsidized into home ownership when it was affordable and African Americans were prohibited from doing so.

That’s more often African Americans than White people for all of the reasons we’ve been talking about. White people were subsidized into home ownership when it was affordable and African Americans were prohibited from doing so. We can change the zoning in those communities to allow for a diversity of housing types—to allow duplexes, triplexes, small, multifamily buildings on the same lots that now only allow single-family homes. 

That can begin to create more supply of housing, more affordable units because they’re smaller, and to allow for a wider range of affordability options as the first step toward diversifying those communities. 

Sankin: Let’s say I’m a person who first got engaged by the Black Lives Matter protests. I went out and marched. I want to be able to do something more, but don’t know what to do in my local community. What is something a person in that situation can do that could really make a difference?

Leah: A couple of examples are a community could start or support a land trust. A land trust creates affordable home ownership opportunities in communities where prices are rising or gentrifying. In suburban, expensive communities, they can create long-term, affordable home ownership opportunities for low- or moderate-income households and prevent displacement in gentrifying communities. That’s one example. 

A local group could start a down-payment assistance program to provide down-payment assistance to African American homebuyers, who lack the intergenerational wealth that White people more often have to buy homes because of the past policies that subsidized White people to get into homeownership and prohibited African Americans. 

They can advocate locally to change zoning ordinances to allow duplexes and triplexes and increase the affordability of homes in that area. 

Sankin: How should folks who are pushing for these policies, especially around zoning, deal with pushback? 

Leah: We talk about the prevalence of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) activists, who try to block building affordable housing or multifamily housing in exclusive communities. They argue that it will forever change the character of the community, that it will increase traffic and increase crime—all of these thinly-veiled racial comments about the devastation that will happen to a community if they start to diversify. 

I think NIMBYs have had a good run of blocking a lot of development. Now, as we build a movement that can redress segregation and challenge these laws, local activists will need to be as vocal and as strong as NIMBYs have been in blocking them. It’s possible. We have examples in our book and in a Substack column that we’re writing of communities that have countered this NIMBY opposition. 

I think what helps is really breaking down their argument. They think it’s about community character. They think this is a community that they are entitled to live in, [where they are] entitled to forever increasing property values. When we look at the history and see how the communities were created, [they were] intentionally created to benefit the White families who are allowed to buy into them and to exclude African American families. 

Sankin: What do you think of the nascent YIMBY (Yes, In My Backyard) movement?

Richard: It’s a step in the right direction. There’s a lot of potential in these communities for people to mobilize and support greater density and more housing opportunities. The YIMBYs typically are young professionals who can’t afford to live in the type of communities where they grew up. These are middle-class people. And if they support, and they are supporting, the upzoning efforts, they can add their weight to the political force to make it happen. 

Neither White people nor Black people can afford to buy housing unless they had wealth inherited from parents and grandparents.

But the YIMBYs themselves are not typically the middle-income African Americans who have been excluded from these communities. Because we have such an enormous housing shortage, neither White people nor Black people can afford to buy housing unless they had wealth inherited from parents and grandparents, as a result of their benefit from federal programs that excluded African Americans. 

It’s an important thing for YIMBYs and their allies to get upzoning rules adopted. But more affirmative steps—affirmative action in housing—need to be taken to ensure that African Americans benefit from those programs, because otherwise they’ll be outbid by the YIMBYs and other wealthier White people. 

Sankin: It seems like the first step to all of this is to change the way that people see their social environment—opening people’s eyes to it not just being happenstance that these people live over here, and those people live over there.

Has writing and researching this book changed the way that you move through your own built environment? Has it changed the things that you’ve noticed when you go through a new city?

Leah: I would say that through the research for this book and going around the country speaking about it, what has shifted for me is just how many people out there are wanting to do something about this. Black and White, urban and suburban, lower-income and higher-income communities. That has been very heartening and inspiring and hopeful for me. 

I started this project with my dad hoping to feel hopeful about what we can do about segregation. I wasn’t sure, because I’ve heard so many of the stories about NIMBYs blocking progress on these issues. There’s an overwhelming nature to it. I’ve been an organizer in my past career and also worked in housing policy—it’s often fighting an uphill battle. It’s difficult. 

What I have gotten out of this is just seeing how hopeful it is. Seeing how, in every type of community we’ve visited, there are people there wanting to see change, working on change, and implementing strategies that are having some success. That’s how my outlook has changed based on this work. 

Thanks for reading,

Aaron Sankin
Investigative (Real Estate?) Reporter
The Markup

Sat, 03 Jun 2023 00:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Black Unity Now Necessary To Kickstart Reparations Into Reality Just a moment...
Sat, 03 Jun 2023 07:36:00 -0500 en-US text/html
The power of real estate

Bangladesh is an emerging economy that will soon step into the trillion-dollar segment with real estate set to play an integral role in this transformation, according to industry people.

The country's real estate sector saw significant growth in exact years and this can be attributed to several factors, including increased urbanisation, rising income and a growing middle-class.

As a result, real estate has become an attractive option for investment.

According to data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the real estate sector's contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) was 7.93 per cent in fiscal 2022-23. This marked a significant increase compared to previous years, highlighting the sector's expanding role in the economy.

M Mahbubur Rahman, chief executive officer of Rupayan City, said the real estate sector currently has the third highest number of employees in Bangladesh. As an emerging industry, it has become a safer place to invest.

Bangladesh is witnessing rapid urbanisation and people are opting to move to cities from their villages. This situation is creating a constant appeal for residential or commercial spaces.

Another interesting point for assets is that their prices never go down despite inflation, recession or any other calamity, making this investment safe and risk-free with a guaranteed appreciation of the invested capital, he added.

However, there are some setbacks to investing in real estate. The very first is that the shortage of land is making investors pay a fortune on purchasing them as in most cases, a substantial capital investment is required, which limits the market.

"There is also a concern about liquidity as selling the property mostly cannot be done quickly compared to stocks, gold, or other types of assets," Rahman said.

Md Kyser Hamid, managing director of Bangladesh Finance, said the benefit of investing in real estate is better than any other option on a long-term basis.

The government gives some relaxation for undeclared money almost every year so that those who have undeclared money earned by legal means can whiten it by investing in the real estate sector.

Another significant aspect is the rental income generated from properties. The rental market in Bangladesh, particularly in Dhaka and Chattogram, has witnessed steady growth. The demand for both residential and commercial properties, driven by urbanisation and population growth, has contributed to rental income, which adds to the sector's contribution to the GDP.

Hamid said people have to pay tax on capital gain in the real estate sector year-on-year, which does not happen in other income or investment.

Alamgir Shamsul Alamin Kajal, president of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB), stated that the sector is the most secure for investment, and its importance in the economy is significant. Therefore, everyone should make an effort to make it stronger and more attractive to domestic and foreign investors, he added. Kajal further mentioned that real estate firms have initiated maximum land utilization in a planned manner. Additionally, builders have started constructing apartments for the middle-class.

"The government should prioritize the sector and formalize a sector-friendly policy in the next budget, considering the employment opportunities it generates," added the REHAB president. He also suggested that the government reduce the recently increased registration fee. Instead, the government could announce special benefits for first-time buyers, such as massive discounts in registration fees, according to Alamin.

Furthermore, he emphasized the need to extend easy and long-term home loans to property/flat buyers, along with the implementation of a special real estate law for realtors' protection. "The government can make it mandatory for financial institutions to allocate a certain percentage of their funds to home loan seekers because those who genuinely need a home loan are not receiving it."

To diversify the economy, he suggested establishing wholesale markets outside the capital to ensure growth in other regions. "Lastly, the government should provide unquestioned amnesty for the use of undisclosed money in the real estate and industrial sectors." According to Alamin, when this facility was extended to the housing sector in 2020, it attracted Tk 20,000 crore in investments and earned the government Tk 2,000 crore in taxes that year.

Economist Khondaker Golam Moazzem, a research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said real estate is still a lucrative sector for investment.

The progress of the real estate sector in Bangladesh has created a close relation with people's income. As people's income is increasing and savings is growing among a group of people, they are now investing in real estate to own their own homes.

"Initially, the demand was only for residence or dwelling place. But now, it is being used for multiple purposes," he said.

A secondary market has also been created in the sector, where people purchase land, flats and apartments for selling and reselling to earn more money.

In addition, the government formulated the "Dhaka Area Plan" including new areas.

Taking advantage of the new plan, realtors and land developers filled the low-lying areas, underwater and marshy areas but environmentalists have severe complaints over the matter, Moazzem added.

Syed Zulkar Nayen, head of business, retail and SME banking at Eastern Bank Ltd, said people always look for suitable ways for their investments to grow and real estate could be a good option  to this end.

"Like any other country, an earning individual, regardless of income and savings, aims to own a house in Bangladesh. Despite having an emotional perspective of "Living in my own home", it also urges a calculated investment," he added.

Nayen went on to say that there are few risk factors of such long-term decisions, such as high initial cash investment, depreciation of property, immediate liquidity and so on.

Arup Haider, head of retail at City Bank, said the demand for flats is apparently at the pre-Covid level and of course, there was never a dearth of supplies that made the real estate market as vibrant as before.

In absence of having many long-term investment opportunities, real estate remained people's number one choice for investment, especially for the middle and upper-middle classes. With Covid-19 no longer a concern, people just started expressing their investing intent, which was the same before the pandemic.

As such, the real estate sector has just bounced back, he added.

Tue, 30 May 2023 07:30:00 -0500 en text/html
Tens of thousands gather in Serbia's anti-government protest Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade © Thomson Reuters Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Serbs joined an anti-government protest in Belgrade on Saturday, blaming a culture of violence for the deaths of 18 people in two mass shootings and calling on the interior minister to resign.

Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade © Thomson Reuters Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade

The protest marked the one-month anniversary of the country's first school shooting on May 3, when a teenager killed ten in an elementary school. In the second shooting on May 4, a 21-year-old man killed eight in a town outside Belgrade.

In response to the shootings, the government announced school summer holidays would start on June 6, two weeks earlier than planned.

Opposition parties which organised the protest - the fifth in the space of a month - say the government of President Aleksandra Vucic has failed to tackle the promotion of violence in the media and allowed it to permeate society.

Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade © Thomson Reuters Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade

Recent Serbian reality TV shows have featured convicted criminals, including murderers, and shown men beating up women.

Protesters on Saturday shouted "Vucic leave," and held up banners with the slogan "Serbia against violence".

Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade © Thomson Reuters Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade

Nenad Hadzi Maricic, an actor who was the main speaker at the event, voiced the protesters' demands which include the dismissal of Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic and Secret Service Chief Aleksandar Vulin as well as the immediate halt of all TV programmes that promote violence.

Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade © Thomson Reuters Serbian opposition parties protest against violence and in reaction to the two mass shootings, in Belgrade

Vucic denies the allegations and says the government needs to be challenged in an election. Pink TV has pledged to stop airing a reality show which features a man convicted of murder from next week.

"We must remain persistent in our demands," Aleksandar Saran, one of the protesters told Reuters. "Our demands are not abstract, we just want to live in a healthy environment."

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Christina Fincher)

Sat, 03 Jun 2023 07:42:57 -0500 en-GB text/html
Real Estate/REITs

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Mon, 08 May 2023 08:55:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Scotland has been on a ten-year holiday from reality

SCOTLAND WAS the first part of Britain to get high on populist referendums. In 2014, two years before the Brexit vote, the Scottish independence campaign exhorted people to ignore the experts and revel in a glorious national renewal. The Scottish National Party (SNP) lost that battle but it won the peace. Since then the SNP has triumphed in election after election. It has made the intoxicating cause of independence the principal dividing-line among Scottish voters. Nicola Sturgeon, the party’s leader until her resignation in February, managed to make liberals giddy, too, by being not just populist but progressive.

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The wheels have come off the camper van in spectacular fashion. Ms Sturgeon’s abrupt exit amid a police investigation into her party’s finances has shattered the SNP’s credibility. The inability of the Scottish government to call another referendum unilaterally means that the path to independence is blocked. Under Humza Yousaf, the party’s new leader, the SNP is projected to suffer heavy losses to Labour in the next Westminster election, making it more likely that Sir Keir Starmer will win the keys to 10 Downing Street. The SNP’s grip on Holyrood, where it has held power continuously since 2007, will be in serious doubt at the election to the Scottish Parliament in 2026. Scottish politics is suddenly, dramatically, in flux.

And yet Scotland is also stuck. The country remains split down the middle on independence. Even if the chances of another referendum in the foreseeable future are very slim, the simplest electoral strategy for both the SNP and the Scottish Tories, the strongest unionist voice, will be to whip up the prospect for years to come. The SNP itself has become incapable of thinking beyond the next strategic gambit for divorce. Elementary tasks—procuring ferries, conducting a census—confound an administration that once claimed it could build an independent state in just 18 months. Genuine problems have been left to fester. Scotland is a parable with lessons that both encourage and dismay: that a populist movement can suddenly unravel and that the damage it causes can still endure.

Scotland’s problem is slow growth. Productivity has been stuck since 2014, and parts of the country remain shockingly poor. Business investment as a share of GDP has been flat since 1998—were Scotland an independent country, it would have been third from bottom in the OECD. In 2018 Scots launched 46 companies for every 10,000 of the population, versus 71 in the rest of Britain. North Sea oil is in long-term decline. Scotland’s banking industry has become more dependent on London since the financial crisis. Good universities are constrained from admitting as many Scots as they should by a policy of free education.

Low growth is a problem that Scotland shares with the rest of the United Kingdom. But its predicament is worse, for two reasons. One is demography. The Scottish population is expected to peak sometime this decade and then fall back over the next 50 years. It will age more rapidly than England’s. The over-65s will rise from a fifth to a third of the population by 2072. All this will knock half a percentage point off annual economic growth.

The second reason is that the flow of money from Westminster is becoming less lavish. The SNP has been able to recreate the trappings of a Nordic-style social democracy—free university tuition, free eye tests, free prescriptions—in part because of a generous supply of cash from the British government. An arrangement known as the “Barnett formula” determines by how much the biggest grant changes each year. This formula is going to become a squeeze in coming decades: the premium of per-person public spending in Scotland will fall from 124% of English levels in 2027 to 115% in 2057.

Improving Scotland’s economic prospects, and reversing its demographic decline, ought to be the SNP’s focus—not just for the sake of the country, but also as a route to the party’s revival. However, manufacturing outrage is electorally easier and more instantly rewarding than the long haul of fixing real problems.

As with all populism, weaning activists and voters off a habit of constitutional confrontation will require a cultural shift. Every issue is seen through the lens of social outcomes first and implications for growth last. The SNP has grown chilly to businesses and made the fuzzy idea of a “well-being economy” the centrepiece of its agenda; its Green coalition partners repudiate the measure of GDP growth. The party has hoarded power centrally in Edinburgh, when cities such as Glasgow ought to have been able to try out their own growth-enhancing policies.

In a country where devotion to the cause counts for more than competence, scrutiny has been sorely lacking. Holyrood lacks a vibrant backbench culture; the poison of polarisation has made think-tanks and academics hesitant to criticise the SNP. Mr Yousaf still seems wedded to a mix of giveaways, tax rises and constitutional fights. It will take a new party leader—perhaps Kate Forbes, the runner-up in the race to succeed Ms Sturgeon—to put growth first.

Giving populists what they want sometimes makes things worse. Westminster’s tactic of heaping powers on Holyrood in an attempt to quell separatism has failed. Instead the British government needs to police the boundaries of devolution. It was within its rights to reject Scottish demands for another referendum and to strike down proposed gender-recognition reforms. Westminster needs a stronger role in overseeing strategic infrastructure in energy and transport. Ms Sturgeon refused to take questioning from parliamentary committees in Westminster; that should change. The Public Accounts Committee should take more interest in how the Scottish government spends its money.

This more businesslike approach will inevitably prompt nationalists to say that the English are recolonising Scotland. Mr Yousaf is unpopular, which makes it all the more likely that he will seek to win over SNP activists with one last heave for independence. Politics is about vision and emotion. But the parable of Scotland shows that even populists must eventually demonstrate that they can solve genuine problems. The country’s political class has been on a long holiday from reality. Scotland cannot afford another wasted decade.

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Wed, 31 May 2023 20:43:00 -0500 en text/html
Dubai Government Investment Fund Posts Record Profits As Local Economy Bounces Back

Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) has reported a record profit of AED36.1 billion ($9.8 billion) for 2022, helped by high oil prices, a rebound in the emirate’s tourism sector after the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong performance in the banking sector.

In results issued on May 31, the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund also reported record revenues of AED267.4 billion for the year, up 58% on the year before.

The fund attributed its performance to a jump in oil and gas revenues and a surge in travel and tourism activity. It was also helped by what it described as “strong fundamentals” in the real estate sector and record earnings from aluminium production.

ICD managing director Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani said there were “improvements seen across all businesses”.

It said that revenue growth had outpaced its operational costs, boosting its profit margin. The biggest source of profits came from banking and financial services, which contributed AED15.3 billion, or 42% of the total.

At year-end, the fund’s assets were valued at AED1,177 billion. That is equivalent to $320.5 billion and leaves it just outside the top-ten largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, according to the rankings of the SWF Institute.

Local portfolio

ICD holds stakes in many of the key actors in the Dubai economy, including banks Emirates NBD and Dubai Islamic Bank, airlines Emirates and FlyDubai, oil and gas company Enoc and real estate developer Emaar.

Earlier in the month, Emirates had itself issued results for 2022 which included its highest-ever revenues and profits.

Other exact data confirm the healthy growth of the Dubai economy, not least in the critical tourism sector.

The emirate welcomed 14.4 million international overnight visitors in 2022. That was still some way behind the pre-pandemic total of 16.7 million in 2019, but the gap appears to be narrowing fast. In the first quarter of this year, some 4.7 million visitors arrived, not far off the 4.8 million for the equivalent period of 2019.

In addition, foreign direct investment (FDI) increased by 80% year-on-year in 2022 to reach AED47 billion, according to a exact report by Emirates NBD, with the biggest sources of inward investment being Canada, the UK and the U.S.

The figure for 2022 was still some 28% below the pre-Covid peak of AED65.8 billion recorded in 2019. However, the local authorities are aiming to increase FDI to AED60 billion a year by 2033.

That fits into a wider plan to double the size of the economy over the next decade, taking Dubai’s gross domestic product (GDP) from AED400 billion to AED800 billion by 2033.

Macroeconomic growth is helping to reduce the emirate’s debt burden. In a recent report, ratings agency S&P Global estimated Dubai’s government debts should fall to 51% of GDP this year, down from a high of 78% in 2020. However, it warned that broader public sector debt, including government-related entities, would remain high at about 100% of GDP.

The Russia connection

S&P said it expected Dubai’s economy to grow by 3% this year, down from 5% in 2022 and 6.2% in 2021 as the emirate moved out of its post-pandemic recovery to a more normal economic environment. It said it expected “continued strong momentum in the hospitality, real estate, trade, and financial services sectors to support growth”.

The economy’s fortunes have also been helped by the UAE’s continued openness to Russia – despite the misgivings of the U.S. and other western countries concerned about the opportunities this offers for those wanting to evade sanctions.

S&P pointed out in its report that “the Russia-Ukraine war has … led to large inflows of Russian nationals and capital. Notably, Russians were one of the emirate's top five real estate buyers by nationality in 2022”.

Wed, 31 May 2023 04:11:00 -0500 Dominic Dudley en text/html

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