Kuwait Local News

Amir leaves for Bahrain to attend GCC summit

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will leave for Bahrain today leading a Kuwaiti official delegation to attend the 37th Summit of the GCC Supreme Council and GCC leaders’ meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The summit is held amid quite significant regional challenges, affirmed Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the GCC Secretary General. These political, security and economic challenges warrant solidarity and cooperation among all the GCC member states and relentless action to attain merger among them, Zayani said in an interview broadcast by the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA) yesterday.

He indicated that agenda of the GCC summit, due on Tuesday, includes various files related to political, economic, security and social cooperation, as well as examining reports filed by the Ministerial Council, committees and the General Secretariat.

Current economic conditions constitute some of the major challenges facing the GCC states, he said. The GCC countries had already taken steps at this level, endorsing the joint economic treaty, setting up the common market and the customs union.
Elaborating, Zayani re-affirmed the GCC states’ resolve to face security threats. “They will not hesitate to take all necessary measures to safeguard their security, stability and defend their sovereignty and interests,” he stressed.

The GCC countries have taken an unwavering approach for upgrading their security and military potentials for defense purposes and safeguarding achievements that have been made throughout the years, Al-Zayani added.
He rejected, anew, foreign intervention in the regional countries’ affairs for such meddling contradicts with international laws and threatens the Gulf security and stability, noting the UN prime role in this regard.

On the Syrian refugees’ plight, he underscored the GCC countries’ efforts at the public and private levels to help them, noting that the GCC states along with other countries had pledged more than $7 billion to aid the Syrians. Kuwait had hosted three international conferences grouping countries pledging support for the Syrians affected by the war. A fourth one was held in London.

Regarding Yemen, Al-Zayani said the GCC countries had given substantial financial support for the legitimate government to help it deliver relief supplies to those in need in the war-stricken nation. For its part, Saudi Arabia had established King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid to coordinate humanitarian operations in Yemen, with a special budget estimated at one billion Saudi riyals.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah yesterday expressed confidence that the summit will come up with resolutions to promote the pan-GCC integration, and joint action. These will be topped with carrying on with implementation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s ‘Vision 2030’ for accelerating the pace of cooperation among the member states, and enhancing the bloc’s joint action, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifah said in a press statement.

He noted that the GCC Ministerial Council in 2016 approved measures for the completion of the Monarch’s wise vision, and the leaders endorsed the formation of a joint commission to reactivate economic and development.

The Bahraini chief diplomat pointed to the pivotal role the GCC member states play on the regional and international scenes. The 37th Summit will be a good chance to consolidate this role, and further boost security and stability in the region, to maintain unity, development, and prosperity in the region.

Concluding the statement, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifah praised the Saudi King’s presidency of the 36th Summit held in Riyadh in December 2015, which has helped achieve remarkable steps for the GCC march, to continue with strong resolute in the Manama summit till the bloc realizes the aspired integration and unity.

In the meantime, MPs of the Bahraini Council of Representatives have affirmed the importance of the upcoming GCC Summit in facing the rising political, security and economic tension in the region. The MPs agreed in various statements that the current unstable conditions in the Arab World, mainly the escalation of terrorism and the economic situation in the Gulf countries due to the drop in oil prices, require the GCC states to unite.

Creating unity between the GCC countries will prevent any outer intervention in the Gulf’s own issues, said MP Nasser Al-Qaseer. The Gulf states have the ability to become one of the top economic powers, as they possess huge financial abilities, strong infrastructure and opportunities for attracting foreign investments, he added.

MP Mohammad Al-Amadi said meanwhile that the GCC citizens are looking forward for the outcome of the 37th summit, hoping the leaders would take measures to create a Gulf union to face the growing challenges and threats in the region. Sharing one language is a key factor to create a strong economic union, he said.

On this matter, he mentioned the successful experience of the European Union (EU), despite countries of different languages and backgrounds. Meanwhile, MP Jamal Dawoud noted the importance of discussing means of resolving the unemployment issues among youth through executing joint-GCC economic projects.
In the meantime, Bahraini Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sheikh Humoud bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are heading towards a level of unity and further development. He further stressed the importance of the 37th GCC Summit to be held in Riyadh tomorrow, amidst the rising political, economic and security tension in the region. The ambassador hoped the summit will result in establishing the sought and the long-awaited Gulf union to face the challenges and threats and boost economy among the GCC states. – KUNA

India News

Protests In Arunachal Pradesh Over Citizenship To Chakma, Hajong Refugees

Normal life was hit across Arunachal Pradesh amid protests against the centre’s decision to honour the 2015 decision of the Supreme Court, granting citizenship to some 54,000 Chakma and Hajong refugees in the state.

A dawn-to-dusk shutdown was called across Arunachal Pradesh by the powerful All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU).

Violence was reported from several parts of the state including state capital Itanagar where public transport vehicles came under attack. At least four state-owned buses were damaged and several private vehicles were attacked.

The protesters even pelted stones on the police personnel.

The state BJP head office at Itanagar was also ransacked, police sources added.

Chakmas and Hajongs came to India and are settled in several states of Northeast India as refugees.

They fled Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, having lost their homes and land to the Kaptai Dam project on Karnaphuli River in the mid-1960s.

Like the Rohingyas of Myanmar, they too face religious persecution.

While Chakmas are mostly Buddhists, the Hajongs are largely Hindus.

In Arunachal Pradesh they have colonies in Subansiri, Lohit and Tirap districts.

The communities are finally set to get limited citizenship in India, but officials say they cannot be given land or tribal rights as that may trigger conflict.

The chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu, where most of the refugees live, has said such a move would change the demographics of the state which has a predominantly tribal population with special rights including over land.

The decision to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong also comes as India is under fire for its plan to deport some 40,000 Rohingya Muslims who face persecution in Myanmar.

India News

Schools Closed For A Week Due To Pak Firing In Jammu And Kashmir’s Arnia

For the last one week, schools at the international border at Arnia in Jammu and Kashmir are shut due to incessant shelling by Pakistan. The panic-stricken students and staff say the situation is just not conducive for studies.

“There is no future for the children living in border areas, there was firing just now, we don’t know when will the firing take place again, I don’t think the schools will open till Diwali now,” said Jyoti, a student.

The last one week saw repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the Arnia sector. Pakistan targeted several BSF posts and villages close to the international border. Two people including a woman and a BSF jawan were killed in Pak firing and eight civilians were injured. Many houses were badly damaged in Pakistani shelling.

Following Pakistani shelling, 50 schools have been closed in border belt of Arnia sector with a total enrolment of 5,000 students.

“The firing was on for the last five days. I am staying with my family at my home only. I don’t know when will firing resume and where will the shells land,” said Vishav, another student.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has appealed for forces to stop cross border shelling. Speaking at a public rally in the border town of Tanghdhar near the Line of Control, she said India must show magnanimity and lend a hand of peace towards Pakistan.

“Our state has been sandwiched between our country India and Pakistan. When there is war we suffer the most. It is most unfortunate that we are talking about schools and colleges and hospitals and in the same breath we are taking about bunkers to save us from shelling,” Ms Mufti said.

India News

Talks On For Deportation Of 7 Rohingyas, Arrested As Bangladeshis, In Tripura

At a time when centre has claimed through an affidavit in Supreme Court that the Rohingya Muslim refugees living in India are increasingly becoming a threat to internal security of the country, cases of Rohingya Muslims trying to enter India to move to New Delhi through northeast India has surfaced once again.

Official documents and pictures indicate that seven Rohingyas who entered Tripura through Bangladesh border and were apprehended are now kept in a protective home in state capital Agartala. They looked like Bangladeshis and spoke Bengali.

After being arrested from a railway station in Tripura in June this year, they were sentenced for two months in jail for illegal entry in India.

Earlier this month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) informed the state government that they are Rohingyas. Since then, they have been shifted to a highly secure government home and talks are on for their deportation, official sources said.

Neither the police nor local administration nor the court could identify that they were Rohingyas.

A senior Tripura Police officer on condition of anonymity said, “In their interrogation they had at that time claimed they are Bangladeshis and had entered India illegally in search of job. In reality, they sneaked-in through the Bangladesh border in southern Tripura and were planning to take a train to Guwahati and had plans to go to Delhi for getting refugee status card from UNHCR. It was only a UNHCR communication that revealed their real identity. In fact one of them has a refugee card and the rest which includes four minors.”

The centre has already informed Myanmar about the seven Rohingyas, sources said.

India News

Centre Seeks Modification To Top Court Order On Chakma-Hajong Refugees

The central government is in a precarious situation over the issue of granting citizenship to Chakma-Hajong refugees living in Arunachal Pradesh and is looking for a way out. On one hand, it is under fire for its move towards deporting around 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees.

On the other, it faces resistance from several northeastern states where most Chakma and Hajong refugees are settled. So, the centre has decided that it is going to approach the Supreme Court to seek a “modification” to its 2015 order that it has to comply with.

“It is not possible to implement the Supreme Court judgement as it infringes on the rights of people of Arunachal Pradesh,” Minister of State (Home) Kiren Rijiju told NDTV.

According to him, as a home minister, it is his duty to implement the decision of the court but as an MP of the state, he also has to put across the sentiments of people of his state before centre. Also he has to see that constitutional rights of the tribals in Arunachal Pradesh are protected, he said.

“We must ensure that the constitutional rights of any indigenous people or any citizen also needs to be taken into consideration,” he added.

According to the minister, the settlement of the refugees from the erstwhile East Pakistan in the 1960s was a violation of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, currently known as Inner Line Permit, as an outsider has to take special permission before visiting Arunachal Pradesh.

“We have to soon impress upon the Supreme Court that this. Anomaly has to be rectified as this is violation of the constitutional rights of the tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. We will seek a modification of the order,” he told.

The minister who hails from Arunachal himself explains that the state is a protected territory and if the citizenship to the Chakma-Hajong refugees are given, it will skew the social structure of the state.

“We will tell the Supreme Court that the order is not implementable,” he said.

Earlier today, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prema Khandu also wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying that tribal rights of state’s residents need to be protected. “If they are settled in the state then the entire demography would change,” he wrote.

The Union government finds itself in a fix over the issue as the Supreme Court order of 2015 clearly states that Chakma-Hajong refugees need to be given citizenship.

A political match has also broken out around the issue with the centre blaming the Congress for settling them in Arunachal Pradesh without taking the local administration in confidence.

There are about 1 lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees in India. At present, they don’t have citizenship and land rights but are provided basic amenities by the state government.

The Arunachal Pradesh government had approached the top court in the past to review its order but in vain. After the Supreme Court’s rejection, both the central and state governments have started consultations to find a solution to the issue.

Picture Stories

World’s First ATM Machine Turns To Gold On 50th Birthday

Five decades since it heralded a transformation in the way people obtained and used cash, the world’s first ATM was turned into gold for celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary.

The brainchild of Scottish inventor Shepherd-Barron, the first ATM (automated teller machine) was opened on June 27, 1967 at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield, north London, the first of six cash dispensers commissioned by the bank.

To commemorate the anniversary, Barclays transformed the ATM at its Enfield branch into gold, added a commemorative plaque and placed a red carpet in front for its users. “Even though recent years have seen a huge uptake of digital banking and card payments, cash remains a crucial part of most people’s day-to-day lives,” said Raheel Ahmed, Head of Customer Experience and Channels at Barclays.

Now there are an estimated three million cash machines across the globe with some 70,000 cash machines in the UK alone which dispensed 175 billion pounds in 2016. The world’s most northerly machine is at Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway and the most southerly located at the McMurdo station at the South Pole.

English actor Reg Varney, who starred in the British TV comedy show “On The Buses”, was the first person to withdraw cash from the new machine.



Tata Sons Buys Shares Worth Rs. 3,200 Crore In Three Group Firms

Tata Sons on Tuesday raised stakes in three group firms — Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals and TGBL — buying shares worth over Rs. 3,200 crore. Tata Sons has been on a drive to reduce cross-holdings within the group under the new Chairman N Chandrasekaran, as part of restructuring its investment portfolio. He has been pushing for simplification of group structure and remove cross holdings.

The promoter of the major Tata group companies has bought shares worth about Rs. 1,634 crore in Tata Motors, as per the data available with BSE. It has bought 38,767,541 shares of Tata Motors at Rs. 421.44 per share constituting 1.34 per cent.

In a regulatory filing, Tata Chemicals said it has sold 4,31,75,140 equity shares of face value of Re 1 each of Tata Global Beverages Ltd (TGBL) to Tata Sons Ltd at price of Rs. 213.35 per share, fetching around Rs. 922 crore.

Similarly, TGBL said it has sold 1,04,80,000 equity shares of face value of Rs. 10 each of Tata Chemicals Ltd (TCL) constituting 4.11 per cent of the issued capital of TCL to Tata Sons through open market transaction. The shares were acquired at Rs. 642.55 apiece for Rs. 673.39 crore.

In June, Tata Sons had acquired an additional 2.89 per cent stake in Tata Motors for a little over Rs. 3,782 crore from Tata Steel through open market transactions.

As on quarter ended June 30, Tata Sons had 31.6 per cent stake in Tata Motors, according to the information available with BSE.


As on quarter ended June 2017, Tata Chemicals held 7.10 per cent stake in TGBL. During the period, Tata Sons had 23.5 per cent stake in Tata Global Beverages and 19.35 per cent in Tata Chemicals.

TGBL and Tata Chemicals last week said the shares are proposed to be acquired at the prevailing price on the date of acquisition.

Shares of TGBL ended the day at Rs. 216 apiece, up 1.24 per cent from the previous close on BSE. Likewise, Tata Chemicals shares closed at Rs. 656.95 apiece, up 2.24 per cent.

Tata Motors shares closed at Rs. 423.9, up 4.58 per cent.


What Google CEO Sundar Pichai Said On Payment App Tez

A day after Google launched its new digital payment app “Tez” in India, the company’s Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday tweeted it will help India move closer to digital transformation. “We hope that the launch of @TezByGoogle will help take India one step closer to your vision of @_DigitalIndia,” Pichai tweeted.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who launched the app here had said the idea of “Tez” was discussed by Pichai in January, just after demonetisation.

“Google saw a great potential in the Indian economy and businesses,” Jaitley said, adding that Google’s new digital payments app over the next few months was likely to make major advances in digital transaction volumes.

Built on the Indian government-supported Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Tez allows users, free of charge, to make small or big payments straight from their bank accounts.

The app was built for India, working on the vast majority of the country’s smartphones and available in English and seven Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu).

The app works in partnership with four Banks — Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India — to facilitate the processing of payments across over 50 UPI-enabled banks.

According to D.D. Mishra, Research Director, Gartner, Tez provides promising features which are in-line with the requirements.

“It is too early to say whether it can be a game changer as evolution in this business is going to continue, but yes it has the capabilities to bring some disruption as of now,” Mishra said in a statement.

Moreover, Google’s information about an individual’s preferences can play a good role in enabling businesses to know their preferences and provide offers with interesting options.

“The mobile wallet industry too, is evolving and we are at an interesting stage in this competition. Eventually, UPI payments will have an upper hand if it continues to remain free and provide better security, convenience and add more Value Added Services,” Mishra informed.


Swiss Shut Down ‘Fake’ E-Coin In Latest Cryptocurrency Crackdown

Switzerland’s financial watchdog has closed down what it said was the provider of a fake cryptocurrency and is investigating around a dozen other possible fraud cases, in the latest clamp-down on the risks involving virtual money.

The move by the FINMA watchdog comes on the heels of Chinese authorities’ ordering Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to stop trading and immediately notify users of their closure.

Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, which are issued and usually controlled by their developers and not backed by a central bank, are hailed by their supporters as a fast and efficient way of managing money.

But regulators and traditional banks are increasingly concerned about the risks of fraud in the burgeoning online cryptocurrency underworld.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon last week said Bitcoin, the original and still the biggest cryptocurrency, “is a fraud” and will eventually “blow up”.

The QUID PRO QUO Association shut down by FINMA had provided so-called E-Coins for more than a year and had amassed funds of at least 4 million Swiss francs ($4.2 million) from several hundred users, FINMA said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This activity is similar to the deposit-taking business of a bank and is illegal unless the company in question holds the relevant financial market licence,” FINMA, Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority, said.

E-Coin was not like “real cryptocurrencies”, FINMA said, because it was not stored on distributed networks using blockchain technology but was instead kept locally on QUID PRO QUO’s servers.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach Zurich-based QUID PRO QUO for comment.

FINMA said it had three other companies on its warning list due to suspicious activity in cryptocurrencies, and was conducting 11 investigations into other possible fake virtual currencies.

The Swiss finance industry has been looking for new avenues of growth following a weakening of its bank secrecy rules during a global crackdown on tax evasion.

The small Swiss canton of Zug, famed for low taxes that have drawn multinational companies, has been trying to turn itself into a hub for virtual currency firms.

But the QUID PRO QUO case is an example of the pitfall of investing in the booming but still-murky cryptocurrency world.

Of the money users had invested, FINMA said it had so far seized and blocked assets worth around 2 million francs.

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs, have fuelled a rapid ascent in the value of all cryptocurrencies, from about $17 billion at the start of the year to a record high close to $180 billion at the beginning of September.

An ICO is the practice of creating and selling digital currencies or tokens to investors to finance start-up projects.


EB-5 Visa Major CanAm To Open Offices In India As Demand Jumps

With Indians expected to emerge as major applicants for the EB-5 visa to get permanent residency in the US, CanAm Investor Services, one of the leading provider of this immigration-linked investment programme, is planning to set up operations here.

The firm is expecting to raise $100 million from Indian investors seeking EB 5 visas this year — five times more than $20 million it had garnered in 2014.

The employment-based fifth preference category (EB-5) visa is meant for high networth investors to earn the Green Card which offers permanent residency in the US for themselves and their immediate family through a one-time minimum investment of $5,00,000 into a new US business that creates 10 or more jobs for the Americans.

“We are in the process of setting up operations in India and will most likely have offices in Mumbai and Delhi,” CanAm Investor Services CEO Jeff DeCicco told PTI here.

“Currently, our sales staff travel back and forth from the US,” he added.

DeCicco noted that CanAm has sees “tremendous” response from here in the last three years with the number of investors growing twofold each year from 2014.

“This year, we believe total amount coming from India into the EB-5 programme will be well over $100 million. In 2014, that number was less than $20 million,” he added.

The firm is currently receiving around 200 applications from Indians annually compared to under 30 during 2007-14. It receives EB-5 applications from young educated professionals in the 25-35 age bracket as well as many upper class parents who want their wards to settle down in the US with lucrative careers, DeCicco said.

He said the recently introduced H1B visa curbs by the Trump administration have affected many Indians who were having long term plans to stay in the US.

Accordingly, he said, “The EB5 industry is fighting to increase the number of visas available for the programme.”

At the same time, he noted that the US government is likely to hike investment cap from $5,00,000 to $8,00,000 under the programme next year.

“Raising the investment amount may slow down demand for EB-5 visas. But, we believe this will still grow dramatically in India as the programme is just beginning to gain in popularity,” DeCicco said.

Till very recently, Chinese investors used to account for around 90 per cent of all participants under the EB-5 visa programme. But, with growth in India, Vietnam and other countries, that has declined to less than 70 per cent for CanAm.

Kuwait Local News

Kuwaiti caught growing ‘marijuana’ in his home

General Department of Public Relations and Security Media at Ministry of Interior, in a press release, revealed that officers from the Drugs Control General Department arrested a Kuwaiti citizen who cultivated marijuana in his house. When information about the citizen’s illicit activities was received, intensive investigations were launched during which the citizen was put under surveillance for two weeks.

After taking necessary legal measures, securitymen arrested the suspect near his house, which they raided to find a special laboratory and two greenhouses fully equipped with modern and sophisticated equipment used for agriculture. Inside each greenhouse, large number of plastic pots of different sizes and shapes planted with marijuana, estimated to be about 1,000 plants, were discovered.

In addition, large quantity of marijuana seeds and a sensitive weighing scale were also confiscated. Before he was transferred to the concerned authorities for necessary legal action, the suspect had admitted to trafficking marijuana.