Minister: Nigeria to Recommend 50 Percent Hike in Minimum Wage

Nigeria is to send a bill recommending a national minimum monthly wage rise of 50 percent to 27,000 naira ($88) to lawmakers in the national assembly, the labor minister said on Tuesday.

Cost of living is a major campaign issue ahead of a presidential election on 16 February and unions want the minimum wage to be raised from 18,000 naira.

Inflation stood at a seven-month high of 11.44 percent in December.

Disagreements over the minimum wage saw labor unions striking across Nigeria in September. President Muhammadu Buhari said in January that he would increase the minimum wage, but did not specify by how much.

“The 27,000 naira minimum wage is the benchmark,” Labor Minister Chris Ngige told reporters in Abuja on Tuesday. Ngige said some government workers could receive a higher salary of 30,000 naira a month.

The minister did not say when the bill would be sent to lawmakers. Any change would need to be signed into law by Buhari. ($1 = 306.3000 naira)

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Google Opens New Office in Berlin With Eye on Expansion

American tech giant Google has opened a new office in Berlin that it says will give it the space to expand in the German capital.

 

CEO Sundar Pichai said Tuesday the space means Google could more than double the number of Berlin employees to 300. Google currently has 1,400 employees in Germany.

Pichai says “the city has long been a capital of culture and media. Now it’s also home to a fast-growing startup scene and an engine for innovation.”

Google has faced regulatory headwinds in Europe, and was fined 50 million euros ($57 million) Monday in France for alleged violations of European data privacy rules.

Google Central Europe vice president Philipp Justus didn’t directly address the fine, but said Google’s committed to transparency and clarity on what data is collected and how it’s used.

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Brazil’s Nationalist Leader to Address Davos Globalist Crowd

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will headline the first full day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with a speech to political and business leaders.

 

The nationalist leader is attending an event that has long represented business’s interest in increasing ties across borders. But globalism is in retreat as populist leaders around the world put a focus back on nation states, even if that means limiting trade and migration.

 

After Bolsonaro’s speech on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will address the gathering on Wednesday.

 

But several key leaders are not attending to handle big issues at home: U.S. President Donald Trump amid the government shutdown, British Prime Minister Theresa May to grapple with Brexit talks, and France’s Emmanuel Macron to face popular protests.

 

 

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Economists: Political Uncertainties, Trade Tensions Affect Economic Growth

Economists warn that political uncertainties and trade tensions could undermine global economic growth. Rights groups warn of the dangers of growing economic inequality. About 3,000 political and economic leaders have gathered in the Swiss resort town of Davos to discuss global business and economic trends at an annual economic forum. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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UN Forecasts Global Economic Growth Around 3 Percent in 2019

The United Nations is forecasting that the global economy will grow by around 3 percent in 2019 and 2020, but says waning support for multilateralism, escalating trade disputes, increasing debt and rising climate risks are clouding prospects

The United Nations is forecasting that the global economy will grow by around 3 percent in 2019 and 2020, but says waning support for multilateralism, escalating trade disputes, increasing debt and rising climate risks are clouding prospects.

The U.N.’s report on the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 also stresses that economic growth is uneven and often doesn’t reach countries that need it most.

Per capital income is expected to stagnate or see only marginal growth this year in parts of Africa, western Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in the forward of the report launched Monday that while economic indicators remain “largely favorable,” the report “raises concerns over the sustainability of global economic growth in the face of rising financial, social and environmental challenges.”   

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UN Forecasts Global Economic Growth Around 3 Percent in 2019

The United Nations is forecasting that the global economy will grow by around 3 percent in 2019 and 2020, but says waning support for multilateralism, escalating trade disputes, increasing debt and rising climate risks are clouding prospects

The United Nations is forecasting that the global economy will grow by around 3 percent in 2019 and 2020, but says waning support for multilateralism, escalating trade disputes, increasing debt and rising climate risks are clouding prospects.

The U.N.’s report on the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 also stresses that economic growth is uneven and often doesn’t reach countries that need it most.

Per capital income is expected to stagnate or see only marginal growth this year in parts of Africa, western Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in the forward of the report launched Monday that while economic indicators remain “largely favorable,” the report “raises concerns over the sustainability of global economic growth in the face of rising financial, social and environmental challenges.”   

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Trump: US Civil Servants Working Without Pay Are ‘Great Patriots’

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday described hundreds of thousands of federal civil servants working without pay during the partial government shutdown as “great patriots,” but there was no movement toward ending the record 31-day closure of a quarter of U.S. government operations.

Trump renewed his call for a wall along part of the U.S.-Mexican border, on Twitter.

About 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the shutdown, with more than half ordered to continue working without pay and the rest sent home.

During the weekend, Trump offered a compromise to resolve the shutdown spawned by a dispute with opposition Democratic lawmakers over his demand for $5.7 billion to build the border barrier to thwart illegal immigration.

In exchange for wall funding, Trump’s plan calls for three years of protection against deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children, as well extensions of protected status for people who fled Latin American and African countries because of violence or natural disasters.

Democrats object to the border wall as ineffective and immoral, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Trump’s proposal is a “non-starter.

“They want Trump and Republicans to agree to reopen the government first and then discuss other border security initiatives, while offering $1.3 billion in new border security money, but none specifically for a wall.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to bring Trump’s proposal to a vote in his chamber this week, although he will need some Democratic support to win approval.

Pelosi said she is planning votes this week on adding more immigration judges and money for scanning vehicles and drugs at the country’s ports of entry.

The House has already passed several measures that would reopen the government, but McConnell has refused to bring them up for a vote in the Senate, saying he will not consider any bill that Trump would not support.

Trump assailed Pelosi on Twitter on Sunday.

Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement there is “simply no reason” for the shutdown to continue while the two sides “are engaged in a complex policy discussion.”

She said protecting the immigrants from deportation “is the right thing to do.

“But Lowey said Trump “is wrong to hold them hostage over money for a wasteful wall that could be better spent on more effective border security measures. The president’s trade offer — temporary protections for some immigrants in exchange for a border wall boondoggle — is not acceptable.”

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, but major legislation in the chamber almost always requires a 60-vote majority. It is unclear if Trump will be able to convince at least seven Democrats to vote for his proposal.

Even if the Senate approves Trump’s plan, it would face defeat in the House. A Senate victory for Trump, however, could force new negotiations over his border wall plan and over reopening the government, as furloughed federal workers are set to miss their second paycheck next Friday.

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France Fines Google $57M for Data Privacy Violation

France’s data watchdog fined Google nearly $57 million on Monday, saying the tech giant failed to provide users with transparent information on its data consumer policies and how their personal information was used to display advertising targeting them.

The French agency CNIL said U.S.-based Google made it too difficult for internet users to understand and manage their personal preferences online.

“The information provided is not sufficiently clear,” the regulatory agency said, “for the user to understand the legal basis for targeted advertising is consent, and not Google’s legitimate business interests.”

It was the first ruling using the European Union’s strict new General Data Protection Regulation since it was implemented last year, a sweeping set of rules that has set a global standard forcing large American technology firms to examine their practices or risk huge fines.

Google said it was studying the ruling to determine its next steps.

“People expect high standards of transparency and control from us,” Google said. “We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements” of the new regulations.

 

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House Democrats Eager to Bring DeVos Under Closer Oversight

House Democrats are preparing to bring Education Secretary Betsy DeVos under the sharpest scrutiny she has seen since taking office.

DeVos has emerged as a common target for Democrats as they take charge of House committees that wield oversight powers, such as the authority to issue subpoenas and call hearings.

At least four committees are expected to push DeVos on topics including her rollback of regulation on the for-profit college industry.

Rep. Bobby Scott is a Virginia Democrat leading the House education committee. He says he’ll bring DeVos forward for hearings “as often as necessary.”

DeVos is also expected to face scrutiny from committees overseeing veterans’ affairs, government oversight and appropriations.

Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill says DeVos will work with any member of Congress who wants to rethink education.

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House Democrats Eager to Bring DeVos Under Closer Oversight

House Democrats are preparing to bring Education Secretary Betsy DeVos under the sharpest scrutiny she has seen since taking office.

DeVos has emerged as a common target for Democrats as they take charge of House committees that wield oversight powers, such as the authority to issue subpoenas and call hearings.

At least four committees are expected to push DeVos on topics including her rollback of regulation on the for-profit college industry.

Rep. Bobby Scott is a Virginia Democrat leading the House education committee. He says he’ll bring DeVos forward for hearings “as often as necessary.”

DeVos is also expected to face scrutiny from committees overseeing veterans’ affairs, government oversight and appropriations.

Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill says DeVos will work with any member of Congress who wants to rethink education.

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