first_imgThe FY 2016 expenditure budget is a study in misplaced priorities and lost opportunities. The recurrent budget for the entire country is a little over $500 million. As I have stated before, that is a very small sum indeed. $500 million to cater to the needs of 3.5 million people? Me and a dozen of my colleagues were allocated that sum of money 20 years ago to run a newspaper in Dallas, Texas with 2,500 employees. In other words, on a per capita basis we had $200,000 to spend compared to just $140 for the Government of Liberia. When you place it in that context, it concentrates the mind.When you have such a small amount of money to go around, focus is absolutely essential in order to have impact. And that is what is lacking in our governance. There are simply too many ministries, agencies, commissions, administrative units. When I went through the budget I counted 108 budgetary units. With a $500 million budget, that boils down to an average of just $5 million per unit. You cannot do much with that.So, one of the things that has to happen, probably not during this administration but certainly in the next one, is a careful review of the mission and efficacy of every unit that gets budgetary appropriation. What is the mission of this unit? Do its functions overlap with those of another ministry/agency/ commission? Should one be dissolved and its functions absorbed by another?Let’s look at a practical example. Why do we still have a Ministry of information (a more apt name for it might be the Ministry of Misinformation or the Ministry of Presidential Propaganda)? Every ministry now has a public affairs office. The President has a press secretary. So, what is the Ministry of Information doing that these other agencies are not? We have multiple security agencies: Ministry of National Security, National Security Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency, Anti-Money Laundering Agency, etc. Are all of these really necessary? Each agency has to have a minister/director and the full complement of deputies and assistants, plus staff. Can some of them not be merged to save overhead expenses? This lack of focus is highlighted when we delve into the guts of the recurrent budget. Half (50%) of the budget goes on salaries and benefits. Because such a large proportion of the budget goes on compensation, there is insufficient money left over for work to be done. I think it is fair to say that the only justification for a ministry or agency to exist is that it is providing a service to us, the taxpayers. If all a ministry or agency has money for is to pay salaries, then that ministry or agency should not exist. It is not providing any value to the taxpayer.And there are many agencies for which the above is true. Their budget consists of salaries and very little else because after the appropriation process is done, there is nothing left to give them for them to do meaningful work.The government cannot do everything. It cannot be all things to all men. Choices have to be made. Decisions have to be made as to what government can and should do. Conversely, decisions have to be made as to what government should not be doing.My take is that government should be in the business of education, healthcare, rule of law, certain aspects of agriculture and infrastructure. The government should not be involved in business because the nature of government (slow, bureaucratic) is not suited to business (which requires swift decision-making, ability to change course quickly). That means we should be shedding most of our public corporations. The government should also leave big ticket infrastructure expenditure to the private sector because it simply does not have the resources to undertake the kind of expenditure that is necessary to get the job done. I am thinking of airports, sea ports, electricity, water and sanitation, some roads (which can be farmed out to the private sector and tolled).I was in England in the mid 1970s when the country, weighed down by a multitude of loss-making state-owned enterprises, was moving inexorably towards Third World status. Margaret Thatcher came on the scene, bust up the overly powerful unions, sold off or shuttered many of the state-owned enterprises and saved England. We need a Maggie Thatcher here. Next week, we will take a final look at the expenditure budget to see how it measures up to the priorities that I listed above.The writer is a certified public accountant and a businessman. He can be reached at hagreaves49@gmail.com.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

first_imgTonight marked the first game of the 2017 Harvey Norman NRL Touch Football All Stars Competition. 28 of Australia’s best touch football players have been hand-picked to create two super teams, the All Stars and the Indigenous All Stars. â€œThe All Stars is a great concept- it allows the elite in the Men’s and Women’s to join in the one field and the opportunity to play with girls who you wouldn’t be able to play with usually, along with being able to recognise our history as a country and celebrate that too” Nick Good, Men’s Australian Open Captain tells us before taking to the field. The competition creates an opportunity for us Aussies to celebrate our proud Indigenous culture, as well as our multicultural backgrounds from all over the world. â€œThis is a genuine all-stars match and this has heightened the excitement has been around this year’s competition. I think it is going to come down to play by play and I have no doubt that with 5 minutes to go it will be pretty close. The caliber of players in each team it is the type of touch game you want to watch,” Nick Good predicts. These teams will battle it out across three games for the third year running and the Indigenous All Starts currently hold an undefeated title. The 2017 series kicked off tonight at Wallsend Touch Association with 100 local kids learning some tricks and techniques in a touch football clinic hosted by the All Stars. The kids had a blast, and snagged a few autographs and sausages from the canteen. After a warm up with the kids, the All Stars teams were raring to take to the battle field… And a precursor… Nick Good was right! The first half was a 3 -3 draw. Pete Norman for the TFA All Stars and Jarrad Rutumah from the Indigenous All Stars were instrumental in scoring and playing a part in the opening 3 Touchdowns for their respective teams. The All Stars Girls all crossed in the first half with, Yasmin Meakes, Patricia Michaelopolous and Hayley Maddick all scoring a Touch Down. The second half was a tight affair with no score until the 11th minute. Enter Scott Bundy, scoring a great quickie to give the Indigenous All Stars a 4 – 3 lead. The All-stars quickly leveled to make 4-4.With 5 minutes left, Jared Townsend crossed for the Indigenous All Stars to make it 5 -4. With only two seconds left, the All Stars responded with Pete Norman scoring to take the game to a drop off. 5-5. In the opening set of the drop off, the All Stars crossed through Dylan Hennessey making it 5 -6. The Indigenous All Stars had the right to reply… and they did. Jared Townsend crossed again to make it 6-6. The atmosphere was electric with the TFA All Stars in possession. with the drop off still alive. It was that man again, Dylan Hennessey that took the game on, sliding into to score and winning the game for the TFA All Stars 7-6.The next two games will be thrilling and passionate, follow the action here:Website  www.touchfootball.com.auFacebook  www.facebook.com/touchfootballaustraliaTwitter  www.twitter.com/touchfootyaus Instagram  www.instagram.com/touchfootballaustraliaRelated Links2017 All Starslast_img read more

first_imgCoach Cal whispering something into Tyler Ulis' ear.LAWRENCE, KS – JANUARY 30: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks with Tyler Ulis #3 during the final minutes of overtime in the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse on January 30, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)Kentucky had little difficulty getting past Tennessee Tuesday night. After a close first half, the Wildcats (26-0, 13-0 SEC) blew by the Volunteers (14-11, 6-7 SEC) in the final 20 minutes, winning, 66-48. The blowout victory did not come without some physicality, though. Kentucky freshman guard Tyler Ulis appeared to take a hard shot to the face from a Tennessee guard in the first half. Check out this play: Did anyone see this except @BraxtonDsnyder? pic.twitter.com/BdzD94RdK0— Aaron’s Right Shoe (@AaronsRightShoe) February 18, 2015Was it a punch? A shove? Just incidental contact? It’s tough to tell. Whatever it was, it’s something you usually see a foul called for, and there was no whistle blown last night. [KSR]last_img read more

first_imgAvery johnsons smiles at alabama podium.avery johnson alabamaAvery Johnson turned in a pretty decent season in his first year as head coach of Alabama men’s basketball, leading the rebuilding Crimson Tide to an 18-15 record and an NIT berth. Johnson was previously a pretty successful NBA head coach, leading the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006, competing against great head coaches like the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.After his first season in Tuscaloosa, Johnson thinks there are some pretty significant similarities between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Popovich, two of the great coaches ever in their respective sports. He discussed those similarities on ESPN’s Mike & Mike this morning. SEC Country transcribed the interview:“You look at Coach Saban, look at all the guys that are going in the first round this year,” Johnson told the show Monday morning. “Those guys, every single day — I’ve been on the practice field with those guys — Coach Saban gets after them really hard. But they listen, they take it and all of those guys are very competitive. Coach Saban and Coach Popovich, they have a lot in common.”…“They’re both about habits, and habits are formed in practice,” Johnson said. “When you look at what happens in the game, it’s a direct reflection on the discipline and details that their teams perform with in practice. Both guys are very, very competitive — I don’t think either of them wants to lose a game of checkers or chess — and they have a high level of expectation every single day with everything that they do.”At first glance, Saban and Popovich don’t seem that similar, but they definitely share a bunch of traits the more you think about it.[SEC Country]last_img read more

first_imgTORONTO – Flexiti Financial says it’s acquiring TD Financing Services’ Canadian private label credit card portfolio valued at roughly $250 million.The Toronto company, which provides point-of-sale financing and payment technology, said the transaction provides it with a million new credit card customers and 900 new store locations for its network.The added locations bring Flexiti’s total network to 3,500 and make it a leading private label credit card issuer in Canada, the company said.“This acquisition of TDFS’ private label credit card portfolio represents an important milestone for our company, and the consumer lending space in Canada, as it instantly positions us as one of the largest consumer lenders in the country,” said Peter Kalen, founder and CEO of Flexiti.The portfolio of cards targeted towards specific store brands includes merchants in the jewelry, furniture and home improvement categories, such as Peoples, Birks, Ethan Allen, La Z Boy and Kent.TD’s decision to sell the Canadian portfolio aligns with its strategy of simplifying its business model and allows it to focus on its core businesses of TD credit cards, MBNA and TD business credit cards, said bank spokeswoman Julie Bellissimo in an email.She noted that TD continues to operate the TD Financing Services business in the U.S.Flexiti said that as part of its acquisition, Globalive Capital will make a $50 million equity investment in Flexiti to give them a controlled position in the company after being a founding investor.The company said it has also secured $350 million in credit facilities to support the portfolio acquisition and its growth strategy.last_img read more

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Scientists with the Geological Survey of Canada have confirmed that at least two earthquakes have occurred in the B.C. Peace Region since late Sunday.Earlier Monday, Moose FM received several reports of earthquakes that had been felt by area residents in the past 24 hours. The first earthquake reportedly occurred near Rose Prairie on Monday afternoon, while the second occurred near Farmington early Tuesday morning.A map of all catalogued earthquakes in Western Canada, Alaska, and the Western United States in the past 30 days. Photo by Natural Resources Canada. Seismologist Dr. Honn Kao with the Survey’s Victoria office confirmed that seismometers picked up a number of seismic events that occurred in the region in the past several days below magnitude 4. He confirmed that a M2.8 tremor occurred at 4:25 Monday afternoon just 12 kilometres north-northeast of Fort St. John at a depth of only 4.7 kilometres. Another smaller but even shallower quake occurred 25 kilometres west-northwest of Dawson Creek at 7:21 p.m. Sunday. That quake had a magnitude of only 1.9, but a depth of only 3.3 kilometres.Dr. Kao did not confirmed the other quake that reportedly occurred at around 6:45 Tuesday morning near Farmington, but that seismologists are still poring over data. He explained that earthquakes smaller than magnitude 4.0 are usually too small to be automatically pinpointed by the network seismographs in the Peace Region, meaning scientists don’t usually analyze such data immediately unless those smaller earthquakes are felt. Dr. Kao said that the shallow depth of the two confirmed quakes meant that scientists have alerted the BC Oil and Gas Commission to investigate whether there was any oil and gas industry activity occurring in the vicinity at the time of the quakes. At this point, there’s no word from the OGC about whether there was any industry activity occurring at the time.A list and map of all catalogued earthquakes that have occurred in B.C. and Alberta in the past 30 days can be found here: http://www.earthquakescanada.nrcan.gc.ca/recent/maps-cartes/index-en.php?maptype=30d&CHIS_SZ=bcwalast_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Continuing crackdown on terror financers, security agencies have identified 13 people, including Hizbul Mujahideen founder Syed Salahuddin, Hurriyat leaders and businessmen, who are allegedly providing funds to terrorists and stone pelters at the behest of Pakistan spy agency ISI, officials said Sunday. The Centre has started seizing properties belonging to terror financiers in a big way. Thirteen individuals and their properties have been identified by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and action has been initiated, they said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “Individuals identified during these investigations have been found providing money to all major terrorist groups like LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen as also Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters in Jammu and Kashmir,” a senior government official said. Funds were provided to the leadership of Kashmir-based terrorist groups for misguiding, motivating and recruiting local youths to militant ranks. Operational activities of terror groups, including attacks on security forces, camps and convoys, are also being financed, the official said, adding money obtained through these channels are being used by major secessionist formations, especially the Hurriyat Conference. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday These funds are used for maintaining Hurriyat’s top leadership and a massive propaganda machinery to arouse disaffection among the people of Jammu and Kashmir against the Centre. It is also being utilised to spread false information through media contacts, newspapers and social media, the official claimed. The official said these are in turn used to instigate and lure misguided youths to resort to anti-India activities, violent street protests and stone pelting on security forces at encounter sites. Extensive use of such funds is being made to finance institutions such as select mosques, madrasas and organisations like recently banned Jamat-e-Islami(JeI)(J-K), for focusing on subverting locals, another official said. In the first strike, action was initiated to attach a plush bungalow of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali in Gurgaon, the official said. He is, at present, lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail. Watali is allegedly a major conduit for funnelling terror finances into India, the official said. Documents seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) indicate that he was receiving money from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, Salahuddin, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan High Commission here, the official claimed. Watali is known to have important sources of Hawala financing operating out of Dubai. Besides him, another 10 leaders were brought into the multi-agency action on terror funding. The ED has zeroed in on proceeds of such crime and begun action to freeze and seize such assets. The ongoing investigation in the first phase has determined and quantified assets valued at over Rs7 crore as proceeds of terror funding crimes, the official said. The 13 identified individuals include Mohd Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin, who through Hizbul, has been actively involved in creating unrest in Kashmir and other parts of India, according to a document prepared by security agencies. Being a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, Salahuddin has a wide network of local sympathisers, who act on his instructions and collect funds sent by him to fuel secessionist activities, it said. Hafiz Saeed, self-styled chief of Pakistan-based Jamaat-ul- Dawaa, and other separatist leaders of the state, including members and Hurriyat cadre, have been raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and from abroad through various illegal channels like Hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in J-K. The document said Aftab Ahmad Shah alias Fantoosh, a Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) founder member, was spokesperson and legal advisor to the Hurriyat (Mirwaiz faction). During a search at his residence in Srinagar, NIA seized various incriminating documents and during interrogation, Shah confessed that his charter of duties included monitoring incidents, issuing statements, arranging meetings and conferences. Shah, son-in-law of TeH separatist leader Syed Geelani, was closely associated with JeI (J-K). The 13 individuals also include Mohammed Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Akbar Khanday, Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Saifullah and Nawal Kishore Kapoor Khan, self-styled chairman of National Front, an organisation affiliated to Hurriyat, was part of the Muslim Jaanbaaz Force and earlier involved in various militant activities, the document said. Dar was JKLF-R chairman and is a terrorist involved in criminal and anti-national activities since 1990. He received arms training in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1989-90.Khanday is a JeI(J-K) member and trusted lieutenant of Geelani. He knew of anti-India protests in the Valley. Kalwal, a former militant trained in PoK, is a key fund raiser for stone pelters.He collects funds on behalf of Hurriyat and spearheads protests, the document said. Bhat, a former Hizbul militant, went to PoK for arms training and was involved militancy cases.He is a trusted aide of Geelani and was aware of systems of fund collection and distribution by the Hurriyat leader to operatives, who indulged in anti-India activities. He has visited the Pakistan High Commission here with Geelani several times, it said. Kapoor, Watali’s close associate, remitted Rs 5.6 crore to Watali for which he has not been able to produce any document.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The AAP has planned to reach out to the women at the ground level to gather a different support base from the women. Various surveys and internal study of the party also showed that the party has a strong voter base among the women in Delhi. Party’s women wing along with the leaders would go to the door to the women and talk to them. Here the party would focus on the issue of safety and also on education. “Our party believes in the empowerment of women. The chief minister from him rallies also promised that after we get the full statehood he will make Delhi a safe city. We will take these messages to the women,” said a leader. The party has also planned various door to campaign mostly by the local MLAs. ” In all these local meetings we see a huge number of women present. We believe that reaching to the women differently would help us,” the leader added. The party also launched a “Metro Campaign” at the heart of the capital, Connaught Place this week. In order to speed up the full statehood movement, the women wing of the party started the campaign from the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station. As a part of the campaign, a team of four women was deployed at all eight gates of the Metro station. The team was seen appealing to passersby to vote for AAP candidates.last_img read more

Ohio State redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun shoots a free throw during the Buckeyes’ 110-80 exhibition win against Ashland on Oct. 29. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorLast season, the Ohio State women’s basketball team averaged 85 points per game.As it looks ahead to the 2018-19 season, only 6.5 of those points will be returning to the roster.Having lost one of the greatest basketball players ever to don a scarlet and gray uniform in Kelsey Mitchell and three other regular starters for the Buckeyes, Ohio State had already been gutted of enough of its roster. On Tuesday, that escalated further when Rutgers announced that Ohio State redshirt senior guard Sierra Calhoun — the only remaining starter from last season — would be heading east to wear a new kind of scarlet as a graduate transfer.During the 2017-18 season, Calhoun was fourth on the team with an average of 11.6 minutes per game. She also was the team’s second-best 3-point shooter among the starters, having made 77-of-215 shots for a 35.8 percent success rate. She started all 35 games with Mitchell, forward Stephanie Mavunga and guard Linnae Harper. Guard Asia Doss started in 30 games, but forward Alexa Hart filled in for the other five due to an ankle injury to Doss late in the year.Calhoun’s departure leaves Ohio State without much of any experience to turn to from the prior season.Redshirt senior Makayla Waterman is the only returning player to have averaged more than 10 minutes over the course of the season. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 3.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.The top returning guard and the player with an inside shot at cracking the starting five is former five-star recruit Jensen Caretti, who averaged 8.7 minutes, 2.4 points and 0.6 assists per game in her freshman campaign with Ohio State. This means Ohio State’s lineup, expectedly, will take on a completely different look. The Buckeyes will have unfamiliar players at guard, but the team still has a plethora of other options. Ohio State received five graduate transfers, all of whom were guards for their former schools: Adreana Miller from La Salle, Najah Queenland from Pacific, Carly Santoro from Bowling Green, Ashanti Abshaw from Cleveland State and Carmen Grande from Bowling Green.It also added four-star guard recruit Janai Crooms, who is listed as the No. 62 overall recruit by ESPN.Grande, who has compiled the second-most assists in the country over the past three seasons, could be counted on to become one of the team’s top ball-handlers while Abshaw leaves the Vikings having become the third-fastest player in school history to reach 1,000 points. That guard depth could be tested by an Ohio State team that has traditionally used four starters at guard as opposed to a more traditional three- or two-guard lineup. Last season, head coach Kevin McGuff started four guards in 30 of the team’s 35 total games. That could again be the case in 2018-19 given the team’s lack of forward depth. Outside of Waterman, Ohio State will have only three-star freshman Aaliyah Patty, four-star freshman Dorka Juhasz and former walk-on Savitha Jayaraman at forward. Patty is listed as the No. 17 overall forward in the 2018 class according to ESPN, while Prospects Nation lists Juhasz as the No. 12 overall international prospect coming to the U.S. to play in 2018. This season will be a trial by fire for most of Ohio State’s roster. Now with Calhoun leaving, the Buckeyes face the prospect of putting out a team with little to no existing chemistry, relying on a roster that returns four players in total and sees nine new players entering the fold.Finding another Mitchell will be difficult if not impossible for McGuff in this this new-look roster. But, he will hope to find a group that can at least come close to the 85 points of last season. read more