Connect with us

Emerging Markets

Pro-Beijing Hong Kong politicians to be vaccinated in mainland

Published

on


A group of more than 200 pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong is set to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in mainland China, ahead of the rest of the city’s population, in order to attend the Chinese Communist party’s premier political event this year.

The businesspeople, lawmakers and other professionals represent Hong Kong on some of mainland China’s most important legislative bodies. These include the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body, and the National People’s Congress, China’s annual rubber-stamp parliamentary session, which will be held in March.

Most members of the group were set to travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on Friday to receive the shot, according to two people with direct knowledge of the plan.

The vaccinations would be implemented to prevent an outbreak at the NPC, one person familiar with the matter said.

Members of the group were so keen to be vaccinated, they sought to bring their families. “Some of the guys asked to bring their wife, but were told no,” one person said.

Hong Kong has been credited with managing Covid-19 relatively well, with 9,868 recorded cases and 167 deaths. But authorities are worried about a new wave of infections, and recently extended social distancing measures and blocked arrivals from countries, such as the UK, where a highly infectious variant of the virus has emerged.

The Hong Kong government has agreed to use a vaccine produced by Sinovac Biotech, a Chinese pharmaceutical company. But plans to start distributing the jab in January were delayed after authorities sought more data over late stage trials.

Sinovac has been criticised as not being sufficiently transparent over varying reported efficacy rates for its vaccine. The jab was found to be 91.3 per cent effective in trials in Turkey and 65 per cent effective in Indonesia. In Brazil, the vaccine was found to have 78 per cent success rate, but that result was revised to 50.4 per cent when “very mild” cases were included in trials.

Hong Kong has been marked by distrust toward Chinese-made vaccines, further complicating the planned rollout. Wallace Lau, convener of the Hong Kong government’s advisory panel on Covid-19 vaccines, said public scepticism was one of the biggest challenges.

Analysts said the move to vaccinate politicians was partly aimed at reassuring residents.

“The Chinese government and Hong Kong government would like to boost the local public’s confidence,” said Sing Ming, an associate professor in political science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Hong Kong is expected to start vaccinations in mid-February, using a jab developed by BioNTech/Pfizer. The city has will also entered a supply agreement with the Oxford/AstraZeneca for its vaccine.

Mainland China is battling a renewed outbreak in the northern province of Hebei, next to Beijing, which has triggered mass testing and targeted lockdowns in the capital.

Latest coronavirus news

Follow FT’s live coverage and analysis of the global pandemic and the rapidly evolving economic crisis here.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Emerging Markets

Bond sell-off roils markets, ex-Petrobras chief hits back, Ghana’s first Covax vaccines

Published

on

By


The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury exceeded 1.5 per cent for the first time in a year and the outgoing head of Petrobras warns Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro against state controlled fuel prices. Plus, the FT’s Africa editor, David Pilling, discusses the Covax vaccine rollout in low-income countries. 

Wall Street stocks sell off as government bond rout accelerates

https://www.ft.com/content/ea46ee81-89a2-4f23-aeff-2a099c02432c

Ousted Petrobras chief hits back at Bolsonaro 

https://www.ft.com/content/1cd6c9fb-3201-4815-9f4f-61a4f0881856?

Africa will pay more for Russian Covid vaccine than ‘western’ jabs

https://www.ft.com/content/ffe40c7d-c418-4a93-a202-5ee996434de7


See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

A transcript for this podcast is currently unavailable, view our accessibility guide.



Source link

Continue Reading

Emerging Markets

Petrobras/Bolsonaro: bossa boots | Financial Times

Published

on

By


“Brazil is not for beginners.” Composer Tom Jobim’s remark about his homeland stands as a warning to gung-ho foreign investors. Shares in Petrobras have fallen almost a fifth since President Jair Bolsonaro said he would replace the widely respected chief executive of the oil giant.

Firebrand Bolsonaro campaigned on a free-market platform. Now he is reverting to the interventionism of leftist predecessors. It is the latest reminder that a country with huge potential has big political and social problems.

Bolsonaro reacted to fuel protests by pushing for a retired army general to supplant chief executive Roberto Castello Branco, who had refused to lower prices. This is politically advantageous but economically short-sighted.

Fourth-quarter ebitda beat expectations at R$60bn (US$11bn), announced late on Wednesday, a 47 per cent increase on the previous quarter. This partly reflected the reversal of a R$13bn charge for healthcare costs. Investors now have to factor the cost of possible fuel subsidies into forecasts. The last time Petrobras was leaned on, it set the company back about R$60bn (US$24bn at the time). That equates to 40 per cent of forecast ebitda for 2021.

At just over 8 times forward earnings, shares trade at a sharp discount to global peers. Forcing Petrobras to cut fuel prices will make sales of underperforming assets harder to pull off and debt reduction less certain. Bidders may fear the obligation to cap prices will apply to them too.

A booming local stock market, rock bottom interest rates and low levels of foreign debt are giving Bolsonaro scope to spend his way out of the Covid-19 crisis. But the economy remains precarious. Public debt stands at 90 per cent of gross domestic product. The real — at R$5.40 per US dollar — remains near record lows. Brazil’s credit is rated junk by big agencies.

Rising developed market yields will make financings costlier for developing nations such as Brazil. So will high-handed treatment of minority investors. It sends a dire signal when a government with an economic stake of just over a third uses its voting majority to deliver a boardroom coup.

If you are a subscriber and would like to receive alerts when Lex articles are published, just click the button “Add to myFT”, which appears at the top of this page above the headline.



Source link

Continue Reading

Emerging Markets

South Africa’s economy is ‘dangerously overstretched’, officials warn

Published

on

By


South Africa is pushing ahead with plans to shore up its precarious public finances as officials warn the economy is “dangerously overstretched” despite the recent boom in commodity prices.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni hailed “significant improvement” as he delivered the annual budget on Wednesday and said that state debts that will hit 80 per cent of GDP this year will peak below 90 per cent by 2025, lower than initially feared.

But Mboweni warned that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government was not “swimming in cash” despite a major recent tax windfall. The Treasury now expects to collect almost 100bn rand ($6.8bn) more tax than expected this year after a surge in earnings for miners. This compares with a projected overall tax shortfall of more than 200bn rand. Still, the finance minister made clear that spending cutbacks would be necessary.

“Continuing on the path of fiscal consolidation during the economic fallout was a difficult decision. However, on this, we are resolute,” Mboweni said. “We remain adamant that fiscal prudence is the best way forward. We cannot allow our economy to have feet of clay.”

The pandemic has hit South Africa hardest on the continent, with 1.5m cases recorded despite a tough lockdown. An intense second wave is receding and the first vaccinations of health workers started this month. More than 10bn rand will be allocated to vaccines over the next two years, Mboweni said.

‘We remain adamant that fiscal prudence is the best way forward’ – South African finance minister Tito Mboweni © Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

Even before the pandemic’s economic hit, a decade of stagnant growth, corruption and bailouts for indebted state companies such as the Eskom electricity monopoly rotted away what was once a prudent fiscus compared with its emerging market peers. 

Government spending has grown four per cent a year since 2008, versus 1.5 per cent annual growth in real GDP. The country’s credit rating was cut to junk status last year. Despite this year’s cash boost, the state expects to borrow well over 500bn rand per year over the next few years. The cost to service state debts is set to rise from 232bn rand this year to 338bn rand by 2023, or about 20 cents of every rand in tax.

The fiscal belt-tightening will have implications for South Africa’s spending on health and social services. On Wednesday Mboweni announced below-inflation increases in the social grants that form a safety net for millions of South Africans. “We are actually seeing, for the first time that I can recall, cuts in the social welfare budget,” said Geordin Hill-Lewis, Mboweni’s shadow in the opposition Democratic Alliance.

The finance minister is also facing a battle with union allies of the ruling African National Congress over a plan to cap growth in public sector wages. South Africa lost 1.4m jobs over the past year, according to statistics released this week. The jobless rate — including those discouraged from looking for work — was nearly 43 per cent in the closing months of 2020.

The South African treasury expects the economy to rebound 3.3 per cent this year, after a 7.2 per cent drop last year, and to expand 2.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent next year and in 2023 — growth rates that are widely seen as too low in the long run to sustain healthy public finances.

“The key challenges for South Africa do however persist, clever funding decisions aside,” Razia Khan, chief Middle East and Africa economist for Standard Chartered, said. “Weak structural growth and the Eskom debt overhang must still be addressed.” 



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending