OTTAWA — Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau suggests he has no plans to provide a timetable for returning Ottawa’s books to balance — even with a scorching economy.Morneau credited the strong economic performance to the Trudeau government’s strategy to run deficits, which helped it finance measures such as lower income-tax rates for middle earners and enhanced child benefits.Moving forward, he said Tuesday that Ottawa intended to pursue its plan to invest more than $180 billion into infrastructure over the next 11 years. That spending is projected to contribute to annual, multibillion-dollar shortfalls across Ottawa’s five-year budgetary outlook — and perhaps beyond.Morneau’s remarks outside a cabinet retreat in St. John’s came after months of impressive economic data, including a recent report showing growth expanded at an annualized rate of 4.5 per cent in the second quarter.“We find ourselves in this positive position because of the economic approach we’ve taken,” he told reporters after being asked if the improved fiscal outlook meant he’d produce a timeline to eliminate the deficit in his fall economic update.“We’re going to continue down that path and we’re going to do it in a fiscally responsible way.”The Liberals’ deficit track has faced criticism.Conservative opponents have long been critical about the government’s plan to add to the federal debt to fund new measures, while some economists have urged Ottawa to limit fiscal uncertainty by mapping out a plan to return to balance.More recently, experts have also warned that Ottawa should consider delaying its nearer-term infrastructure investments to avoid the risk of overheating the already-sizzling economy.The economy’s surprisingly powerful start to the year is expected to improve the federal bottom line outlined in the government’s March budget.At the time, Morneau forecasted a $28.5-billion deficit for 2017-18, including a $3-billion accounting adjustment for risk.A new analysis released this week by a University of Ottawa think tank predicts the deficit is on track to be about $6.5 billion smaller this year. The shortfall is set to shrink thanks to an economic expansion that easily topped federal projections, said the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy.The think tank, led by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, also said there’s “little doubt” the federal measures, such as increased child benefits and early infrastructure spending, have contributed to Canada’s improved economic performance.Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals were fortunate to have inherited a solid financial situation from the Harper government and to enjoy the benefits of a strengthening U.S. economy.Poilievre said the government should balance the books now while the “going’s good.”If not, he warned that rising interest rates will leave households and the government increasingly indebted. Over time, the higher rates will also gradually boost Ottawa’s debt-servicing costs, he added.“Now is the time to balance the budget and strengthen our finances, rather than continuing to pile on new debt,” Poilievre said Tuesday in an interview.Morneau insisted Tuesday that, since taking office, the government’s approach has put more disposable income in consumers’ pockets, which they’ve put back into the economy.On infrastructure, Morneau said Ottawa would stick with the spending strategy because it’s designed to lift the economy over the long term.To guide the government’s deficit decisions, he added it would keep its focus on the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio — a measure of the public debt burden.The government has promised to lower the ratio over the Liberal mandate and views it as a so-called fiscal anchor, rather than eliminating the deficit.“We expect that we’ll be able to do even better than we might have thought in the past, in terms of our ability to manage that,” Morneau said of the ratio.“That will be our continuing measurement tool.”The Liberals won the 2015 election on a platform that pledged to invest billions in infrastructure and child benefits as a way to re-energize the economy. They had promised annual shortfalls would not surpass $10 billion during the first couple years of their mandate and to return to balance by 2019-20.However, a few months after taking office the government abandoned those vows, citing a weaker-than-expected economy.Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

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first_imgHubs of several individuals claiming to be holders of terminal degrees from creditable foreign-based institutions have been discovered in Monrovia.Most of those in the web have reportedly been transitioning from one institution of higher learning in the country to other entities of substance.Those masquerading (cloaking, passing themselves off) with fake academic credentials were recently discovered to be mainly based in Monrovia, gainfully employed with various ministries, agencies and institutions of higher learning.Among the reported intellectual fraudsters were those destined for Gbarnga, Bong County, where the Cuttington University (CU) is said to be ripe for employment.Following the recent discovery of the ring of academic ‘fraudsters,’ it is being reported that among those involved are some highly placed officials, who should soon face investigation. The pending investigation is expected to be led by authorities at the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) and other stakeholders to include personnel from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).According to documents in possession of the Daily Observer, some of the suspected academic ‘fraudsters’ have for many years, been misleading the public about their so-called academic achievements.Copies of some of the fake credentials in possession of this paper contain information highly inconsistent, contestable and debatable. For example, photo-copies of the ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ terminal degree of one of the academic fraudsters carries a different metric number against a purported transcript with a conflicting metric number.In another case, the date of graduation on one set of documents dating back to 2008 differs from the document’s transcript, dated 2005. Most of the documents involved are from ‘universities’ in Nigeria.  “These are some of the most sharp contrasts in the academic industry especially with intellectual property that must be well-arranged and structured,” one highly placed source in the country’s education sector observed.Additionally, one of the fakers, now gainfully employed with a Liberian-based entity, made his getaway after he reportedly submitted ‘fake credentials’ with misspelt words and poor grammar on the purported degree.Apparently, the board of interviewers missed a gross misspelling of ‘Columbia,’ printed on the submitted terminal degree; or did the Board decide to turn a blind eye?Our investigation discovered that one fraudster claimed that his documents had been issued by Columbia University, based in the Washington District of the United States of America. Columbia University is actually based in New York.The documents of another fraudster  contained two different spellings of the name of the same ‘graduate’ who claimed to be in possession of a terminal degree in education.Our investigation has further discovered that most of those involved with such academic fraud are acquainted with each other.The universities from which some of the individuals claimed to have graduated cannot be found online; when found, their names are never on the listing of any of the graduating classes.With this latest development in the educational sector of the country, both the Ministry of Education (MOE) and NCHE have promised to conduct separate investigations into the alleged academic scams.MOE’s director of communications, J. Maxime Bleetahn, confirmed the information on the fraudulent activities in the sector.He told this paper via mobile phone over the weekend that the Ministry will not take the allegations lightly because those acts are some of the academic frauds that have besmeared the country’s educational system.The discovery of people with false intellectual credentials was made recently following the discovery of one Ndien Peters with false credentials while serving as vice president for academic affairs at the St. Clements University. This situation compelled the NCHE to order the institution closed on grounds that it had employed an academic fraudster.Another incident included the recent exposure of a ‘fake’ degree granting institution—CUSWORTH International Business School— based somewhere in Fiama, Monrovia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img

first_imgUnited States (US) oil giant ExxonMobil said it has made significant progress when it comes to increasing its local workforce, by creating opportunities for more Guyanese to join their team.ExxonMobil Country Manager Rod HensonExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Rod Henson revealed that his company currently employs 585 or 52 per cent Guyanese. The company’s local office grew to 40 employees, of which 70 per cent are Guyanese, he said on Tuesday.Henson made this statement while delivering remarks at the Liza Phase 1 Development reception on Tuesday evening, where he noted that things are progressing smoothly as they should.In addition to that, Henson said Guyanese have joined the Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) team and are serving in several professional capacities.These include facility engineers, materials management coordinator, management system coordinator, health and safety coordinator, and health and environment coordinator, among others.Speaking briefly on local content, Henson said over US$14 million was spent on Guyanese suppliers. Together with their contractors, the company has also utilised many local suppliers.About 50 per cent of ExxonMobil’s employees, contractors, and subcontractors are Guyanese. That is expected to grow. ExxonMobil has also opened the Centre for Local Business Development here to promote the establishment and growth of small and medium-sized local businesses.In essence, Henson said his company has been able to grow local business capacity and has made huge investments into the local economy, through a series of strategic development policies.Meanwhile, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman recommitted to ensuring that Guyana gets the best out of the nascent oil sector, and will use it to develop the nation further.The Minister also maintained that the renegotiated oil contract will benefit Guyana tremendously.Following mounting pressure from the Opposition, the Government through the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported that ExxonMobil utilised the services of 309 companies last year.Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo was the most recent person to make calls for Government to release the names of the local companies that ExxonMobil has utilised the services of.The report said for 2018, the oil giant also utilised the services of approximately 227 local suppliers. However, Government has, so far, only released the list of local suppliers for 2018.Among other things, ExxonMobil had said it “submits the list of companies to the Government on a quarterly basis,” while outlining that the “Government can verify the list and or attest to the public that we do in fact submit the data to the Government. Or the Government can choose to disclose the list.”While stakeholders were optimistic that the oil giant was utilising hundreds of local businesses, many had called for the names of the over 300 companies to be divulged.The Opposition Leader even said he found it “surprising that ExxonMobil has been relaying information to the coalition Government, on a quarterly basis, given the reticence of this Administration when it comes to keeping the Guyanese public informed of the developments in the oil and gas sector.”last_img

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – Academy of the Canyons, the Hart District’s early college high school, is holding a series of information meetings starting today for students in grades 11 and 12 interested in revamping their education. Under a partnership with College of the Canyons, the Hart Union High School District program allows students to take four high school classes each semester and at least six units of college classes. By graduation, students typically have completed a year of college courses. Students get priority registration for college classes and can take those courses – which usually run about $60 per class – for free. Meetings to explain the application process will be held at 8tonight at Hart High School; Tuesday at Canyon High, March5 at Valencia High; and March8 at College of the Canyons. The school boasts individualized attention and smaller classes, but students interested in the program should be able to work independently. Academy students also have full access to the college’s resources. connie.llanos@dailynews.com (661) 257-5254 last_img

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