Casablanca-Mi Fettouma, a 90-year-old Moroccan woman who receives only 179 DHs ($21) a month in a retirement pension from the government, recently decided to relinquish it and give it to the Head of the Moroccan government, Abdel-illah Benkirane. Mi Fettouma, in a video recently uploaded to YouTube by Andalouss news outlet, said that with her meagre retirement pension of just 179 DHs, she cannot afford even her most basic needs.“Give it to the Head of the State to play with it,” Mi Fettouma told her interviewer in the video. “This monthly sum is not enough for me to live on. I can’t afford medicines, or even the most vital needs, like food, the public bath, and medicine.” With her noticeable visual impairment, Mi Fettouma cannot do much without the assistance of someone else to guide her. Her eight married daughters and her son, who appears in the video, are all jobless.“Without our neighbors, I wouldn’t have been able to afford medicines,” she states in the video.According to her son, Mi Fettouma went on a hunger strike in Fez, eventually ending up in hospital.“We called on all the authorities,” Mi Fettouma’s son declared in flawless standard Arabic. “We incessantly called upon the Head of the government and the Ministry of Solidarity, and we also sent letters to Princess Lalla Meriem, in charge of many social initiatives, as well as to HM the king.”Mi Fettouma’s cries for help fell on deaf ears, according to her son, who is now unemployed after he quit his work in a company.The son, on behalf of his mother, calls on HM King Mohammed VI to lend his caring and supportive hand to Mi Fettouma, who has been psychologically traumatized by her family’s dire financial situation.MAD 1000 is the lowest retirement pension that is supposed to be paid to Moroccan retirees. Mi Fettouma and her son are asking for this very basic entitlement.$1= 8.20 dirhamsEdited by Elisabeth Myers

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first_imgANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s central bank took action Monday to free up cash for banks as the country grapples with a currency crisis sparked by concerns over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic policies and a trade and diplomatic dispute with the United States.The Turkish lira has nosedived over the past week, accelerating a months-long decline, and tumbled another 7 per cent on Monday as the central bank’s measures failed to restore market confidence.Investors are worried about a confluence of factors: the country’s reliance on foreign loans that may stop flowing in as interest rates rise in other economies, like the U.S.; Erdogan’s insistence that the central bank not raise interest rates, as most independent analysts say it should; and a spat with the U.S. that has led to sanctions and the fear of greater isolation from longtime allies in the West.The uncertainty pushed down world stock markets and briefly caused a sharp drop in the currencies of other emerging countries, like South Africa and India, amid concerns that investors might see similar problems in their economies.The lira hit a record low of 7.23 per dollar late Sunday after Erdogan remained defiant in his economic policies and the standoff against the United States, a NATO ally.“Turkey is faced with an economic siege,” Erdogan said Monday, in the latest of a series of speeches. “We are taking the necessary steps against these attacks and will continue to do so.”He has threatened to seek new alliances — a veiled hint at closer ties with Russia — and warned of drastic measures if businesses withdraw foreign currency from banks.Erdogan also ruled out the possibility of higher interest rates, as they can slow economic growth. But independent analysts say higher rates are needed urgently to stabilize the currency and Erdogan’s hard line is one of the reasons investors are worrying.Erdogan won a second term in office in June under a new system of government that gives him sweeping powers. He has used his new power to put pressure on the central bank to not raise rates.On Monday, the central bank announced a series of measures to “provide all the liquidity the banks need” — but offered no hint of a rate increase.The moves are meant to grease the financial system, ease worries about trouble at banks and keep them providing loans to people and businesses.In times of high uncertainty, banks tend to shy away from lending to each other. A so-called credit crunch, a lack of daily liquidity, can cause a bank to collapse.Simon Derrick, chief currency strategist at BNY Mellon, said the central bank’s measures are unlikely to be enough. In the absence of a decisive rate increase, he said, “it is…hard to look at these announcements as being anything more than temporary calming measures, rather than solutions to the problems at hand.”The lira has now dropped some 45 per cent this year.Part of the concerns about Turkey are the same as other emerging markets. As interest rates rise in the U.S., investors pull their money out of countries that had enjoyed strong economic growth but are perceived as somewhat riskier.Turkey’s situation is among the most precarious among emerging markets because so much of its growth was fueled with debt in foreign currencies. That makes the currency drop so much more painful as it will increase the cost of servicing debt for Turkish companies and banks and could lead to bankruptcies.So far, the impact on developed economies has been relatively contained. Stocks have fallen modestly in the U.S. and Europe since last week, but analysts do not see a big risk of financial turmoil. A few European banks have business there that could lead to losses, but that is not expected to pose a systemic danger to the region.Among the most important things investors are watching out for is whether Turkey, in an effort to stymie the outflow of capital from the country, puts limits on money flows.Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s finance chief — and Erdogan’s son-in-law — said Sunday that the government had no plans to seize foreign currency deposits or convert deposits to the Turkish lira. He said it had readied an “action plan,” without elaborating.The country’s economic trouble has been heightened by a dispute with the U.S. that has centred on the continued detention of an American pastor who is on trial for espionage and terror-related charges. The U.S. has responded by slapping financial sanctions on two ministers and later doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey.Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that the United States would not achieve aims by exerting pressure and imposing sanctions on Turkey.Addressing a conference in Ankara gathering Turkish ambassadors, he called on Washington to “remain loyal to ties based on traditional friendship and NATO alliance” with Turkey.Meanwhile, Turkey moved to take legal action against hundreds of social media accounts it accused of provoking the lira’s plunge.The Interior Ministry said it initiated legal investigations against 346 social media accounts “which posted content provoking the dollar exchange rate.”It did not provide information on the accounts but said they aimed to “manipulate the dollar rate and form negative perceptions” concerning the Turkish economy.The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s office announced it had begun investigating “those who had taken actions which threatened economic stability.” The Capital Markets Board of Turkey issued a similar warning to those who spread “lies, false or misleading information, news or analysis.”___AP Business Writer David McHugh in Frankfurt and Cinar Kiper in Istanbul contributed to this report.last_img

first_imgVladivostok: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met for their first-ever summit on Thursday, vowing to seek closer ties as they look to counter US influence. Putin emerged from the talks saying that like the United States, Russia supports efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent nuclear conflicts. But he insisted that Pyongyang needs guarantees of its security and sovereignty, and took a veiled swipe at Washington for trying to strong-arm North Korea. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”We need to… return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” Putin said. The summit in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok came with Kim locked in a nuclear stand-off with Washington and Putin keen to put Moscow forward as a player in another global flashpoint. The two leaders shook hands and shared smiles before heading into one-on-one talks that lasted nearly two hours, longer than expected, at a university campus on an island off the Pacific coast city. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsIn brief statements before their meeting, both men said they were looking to strengthen ties that date back to the Soviet Union’s support for the founder of North Korea, Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung. Kim said he hoped to turn the modern relationship with Moscow into a “more stable and sound one” while Putin said the visit would give a boost to diplomatic and economic ties. Putin said he supported Kim’s efforts to normalise relations with the United States and hoped to find out “what Russian can do” to help with the issue of denuclearisation. The meeting — which Kim described as “a very meaningful exchange” — later expanded to include other officials. About five hours after he arrived, Kim left the campus following a long final handshake with Putin, waving through the window of his black limousine as it drove away. Putin then addressed reporters alone, saying he would fill in Washington on the results of the talks. “There are no secrets here, no conspiracies… Chairman Kim himself asked us to inform the American side of our position,” said Putin, who was due to fly on to Beijing for another summit.last_img

10 March 2008Iraqi parliamentarians have concluded a weeklong United Nations-backed tour to meet with their counterparts in Northern Ireland to discuss issues including conflict resolution and consensus building. Organized by the Office of Constitutional Support (OCS) of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) as well as the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the visit took place from 2-8 March. The purpose of the tour was to give participants the chance to talk directly with elected members of Northern Ireland’s Assembly, public officials and members of civil society. “Both the Iraqi and the Northern Ireland parliamentarians agreed on the importance of establishing a framework for inclusive dialogue and reiterated commitment to non-violence,” according to a press release issued by UNAMI. Last May, an historic power-sharing accord was signed in Northern Ireland, creating a new Government involving politicians from Protestant and Roman Catholic communities.

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