Abu Dhabi installs more radars to curb speeding

In a bid to deter motorists from speeding, Abu Dhabi Police will increase the number of traffic patrols around the clock and install more radars on the Abu Dhabi-Al Sila Road, as well as on the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road, officials have announced.

The Traffic and Patrols Directorate at Abu Dhabi Police will carry out the new initiative in a bid to reduce the number of fatal accidents and raise the level of traffic safety, particularly on the Abu Dhabi-Al Sila Road, which is notoriously known as one of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the emirate, reported Gulf News.

However, no further details were revealed on the project’s time frame, the report said.

Brigadier General Ahmad Abdulla Al Shehhi, Deputy Director of the Directorate, reportedly said that the installation of new mobile and fixed radars will be concentrated in the Western Region, and that traffic patrols will regularly circulate in the area to monitor the behavior of motorists.

He was quoted as saying that motorists can check the location of the mobile radars through the police’s website and on social media platforms that are updated daily by the ‘adpolicehq’ account.

He also pointed out that the current road speed limits will not change.

“The first stretch starts from Al Dhafra bridge diversion to Baynunah Forest with speed limits of 100km/h and including a grace speed radar setting at 121km/h. The second stretch starts from Baynunah Forest to Barakah region, with a speed limit of 120km/h and including a grace speed radar setting of 141km/h,” Gulf News quoted Brig Gen Al Shehhi as saying.

“The third stretch extends from Barakah to Al Ghuwaifat, with a speed limit of 100km/h and including a grace speed radar setting of 121km/h. The speed limit for heavy trucks will remain set at 80km/h, while the speed limit for passenger buses will be set at 100km/h for all phases of the road,” he reportedly said.

Study: 57% Filipinos don’t exercise regularly

Six out of 10 Filipinos do not engage in any regular physical activity, yet most of them remain optimistic about their overall health, a Sun Life report has shown.

The Philippines tops the list of countries in the region where people don’t exercise regularly, with the country tied with Thailand and Malaysia in the first spot, as 61 percent of the population in each of the three countries are not involved in any kind of regular exercise, Malaya quoted this year’s Sun Life Financial Asia Health Index, a study of health trends in Asia.

More than half of Filipinos who failed to exercise regularly, or 57 percent, blamed it on their lack of time due to work. Forty-seven percent also cited lack of personal motivation, while the same share of respondents likewise identified “distractions of modern life,” the report said.

Other key barriers to living a healthy life were cost and the lack of accessible venues to engage in sports and recreation.

The research is based on the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted in August 2016, with a sample size of around 4,000 Asians from 25 to 60 years of age.

The survey respondents from Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, were from the middle class and were interviewed online, said the news portal.

The report however showed that Filipinos are still very positive about the state of their health, with the Philippines scoring the highest of all markets surveyed on the overall Health Index, garnering a score of 89.

Respondents from the Philippines were the most positive in Asia about their emotional health, with Filipinos the most likely in the region to say that their emotional health is good or extremely good, while the country is the second most positive, just behind Indonesia, when it comes to physical health, reported Malaya.

Duterte urged to create more jobs, cut reliance on remittances

The Duterte administration has been urged to concentrate on job creation and reduce the country’s dependence on remittances from overseas workers in the long term to avoid “future shocks”.

The new world order calls for stronger national economies as forces of globalization and integration wane and mature economies are unable to return to growth, Manila Times quoted Dan Steinbock as saying.

Steinbock reportedly said President Rodrigo Duterte was on the right path with a policy goal of bringing home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and generating jobs by attracting foreign investment and upgrading the country’s infrastructure.

“Duterte is making the right move. It will be the first time in five years that I can sit down and say that you have chosen the policy stance that makes sense, most importantly investment. Whether it comes from foreign sources or domestic, you cannot build infrastructure without it,” he was quoted as saying.

Steinbock reportedly said the huge population of Filipinos could be a destabilizing force in the future, and warned that having a good demographic profile – a huge pool of young workers – won’t be enough to yield high economic growth.

Steinbock pointed out that a significant chunk of the working population had been forced to work overseas because of the lack of local opportunities.

“Demographics is not enough unless you have jobs. We saw in Latin America what happened [in the 1950s to 1960s]. They had youthful demographics but no jobs,” he was quoted as saying. “So for me, demographics is actually really important. You cannot have a major change without it. However, if you don’t have jobs, you have a problem.”
Previous administrations were complacent, Steinbock argued.

“I think the fact that so many people have been exported is not good and we cannot be complacent about it,” he reportedly said. “When you export people, you don’t grow. You have to have the people…It just doesn’t work. Any sustainable, fast-growing, large emerging economy, none of them is exporting people.”

Money transfers from overseas Filipinos account for at least 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. From January to October 2016, personal remittances totaled $24.43 billion, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier, while cash remittances reached $22.22 billion, up 4 percent, reported Manila Times.

Food trucks now seen around Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Integrated Transport Center is now issuing permits to food trucks operating outside the city.
Locations where the vehicles are permitted include Al Raha Beach, Saadiyat Island, the E11 Abu Dhabi-Dubai road, Al Falah and Al Garm, reported The National.

Parking regulator Mawaqif has also issued permits to companies hosting recreational activities, the report said.
“This step will contribute to diversifying the ways of offering services to the public,” Mohammad Al Muhairi, Mawaqif’s general manager reportedly said.

The move is to improve the quality of services and ensure environmental and health standards are met, said the news portal.

Companies must provide a location that will meet Mawaqif approval, such as a vacant area that does not obstruct the path of vehicles or pedestrians.

They must also obtain approval from the Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi Police and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, reported The National.

A map showing the locations and technical schematics must be submitted and approved by police.

Applicants must also secure permits for each truck linked to a valid commercial licence. The company name and a complaints number have to be clearly displayed on each vehicle, the report said.

A no-objection certificate from the landlord is also required, and the truck must not be parked overnight at the location to avoid any penalty.

The permit covers the sale of non-alcoholic beverages, juice, ice refreshments and snacks.

A limited number of permits will be granted for each location, depending on the area’s capacity and whether or not such activity is required.

Specific places and timings set for occupying the area must be strictly observed.

In July, the Department of Economic Development announced that it would begin licensing food trucks to restaurants and catering companies owned by an Emirati or with a local partner.

Fearing Duterte’s wrath, some Indian nationals abandon ‘5-6’ scheme

After President Rodrigo’s order to arrest loan sharks who practice the ‘5-6’ lending scheme even without a warrant, some Indian nationals have stopped giving loans to Filipinos and are now looking for alternative businesses.

Indian businessman Rocky Singh said many money lenders like him have become afraid of being arrested arbitrarily following Duterte’s pronouncement that exorbitant 5-6 interest rates are killing the Filipino entrepreneur’s spirit.

“Siyempre takot baka harassment kahit wala namang kasalanan, sabihin no warrant,” Rocky Singh, an Indian lender told ABS-CBN News.
Singh said he hopes Duterte will give Indian money lenders a chance to continue their trade because they are ready to pay taxes to the government.

These sentiments were shared by his friend, Ranjit Singh, who urged the government to issue permits for 5-6 businessmen, whom he said have contributed to the growth of Philippine economy.

“Hindi naman kami gumagawa ng masamang bagay. Actually, we’re helping the community and the economy sa Pilipinas,” said Ranjit, the son of an Indian money lender and a Filipina.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. has relayed to the Indian embassy that the government will strictly enforce President Duterte’s policy to end the lending scheme practiced by Indian nationals, purportedly to protect the people from unscrupulous activity.

Yasay said he told Ramakrishnan Narayanan, chargé d’affaires of the Indian embassy, at the first vin d’honneur of the President in Malacañang Wednesday that ending this lending scheme is part of addressing domestic problems.

Goodbye Yahoo, Hello ‘Altaba’

International online technology company Yahoo is changing its name to Altaba, after striking a deal with Verizon last year.

The new name is meant to be a combination of the words “alternative and Alibaba”, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking, who didn’t want to be named because the individual was not authorised to speak on the record about the name change.

Today, Yahoo owns roughly 15 per cent of Alibaba, holdings that are worth about $US35 billion.

The idea behind the name is that Altaba’s stock can now be tracked as an alternative to Alibaba because Yahoo owns a sizeable chunk of the Chinese company.

The size of the board will be reduced to five directors, and many key executives will leave, including—as expected—Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Yahoo co-founder David Filo. Also out are Eddy Hartenstein, Richard Hill, Jane Shaw, and Maynard Webb. The departures are not “due to any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies, or practices,” Yahoo’s filing said.

Yahoo is the second early Web giant that Verizon has sought to buy. In 2015, Verizon paid $4.4 billion for AOL.

Japan changes residency requirements for foreign workers

Japan is set to lower its residency requirements from 10 years to just three years, to the delight of foreign workers in the country.

Within the proposal, individuals who accumulate 80 points based on various factors, including academic background, career history, and income will be put on a one-year fast track for residency. The current rules require five years.

New criteria will also be added that will contribute to the point system, such as employment in technology and other growth industries, graduating from a top university, and a career as a big-money investor.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government is hoping to attract foreign talent that would be beneficial to invigorating Japan’s economic growth. Revising the rules for permanent residency will begin after a public comment period, beginning Wednesday.

The proposal to amend the residency rules is said to be planned for enactment as early as March, based on the decision by the Ministry of Justice last Tuesday, reports Nikkei.

Hospitals in PH warned against asking emergency deposit

Senator Risa Hontiveros is urging the public to report medical facilities who ask emergency patients for a cash deposit during medical emergencies, citing the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law as basis for legal sanctions.

“Buhay muna, bago kita. Bawal sa batas ang tumanggi ng pasyente sa panahon ng emergency. Isumbong ang mga mapang-abusong ospital,” Hontiveros said in a Facebook post.

According to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law or Republic Act No. 8344, it is unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic to refuse administering to patients treatment and support that could prevent their death or permanent disability.

The law also prohibits “request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit or any other form of advance payment as a prerequisite for confinement or medical treatment of a patient.”

Violators of RA 8344 shall be imprisoned for six months to two years and four months, or fined P20,000 to P100,000.

If the violation is committed pursuant to an established policy of the hospital or clinic, or upon instruction of its management, the director or officer of the hospital or clinic responsible for the formulation and implementation of the policy shall be imprisoned of four to six years or fined P100,000 to P500,000.

Last week, Hontiveros vowed to investigate possible violations of this law after a woman gave birth last week inside a taxi cab in Quezon City after being refused by two hospitals.

OFW remittances spike GDP growth in 2016

The 6.5 per cent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2016 is most likely because of the 18 per cent growth in overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) remittance in November last year, the lead economist of the Bank of the Philippine Islands said.
“The combined effect of the peso’s depreciation and surge in US dollar remittances on the purchasing power of the OFW’s relatives should have additional multiplier effects on household final consumption. We won’t be surprised if GDP expands by more than 6.5 per cent again in the fourth quarter,” Emilio S. Neri, Jr told Business World.
According to the Central Bank, OFWS’ November remittances hit $2.217 billion, up 18.5% from a year earlier, the fastest uptick since a 24.6% rise recorded in July 2008.
“We hope it is not a sign that OFWs are anticipating tighter immigration policies and are sending their savings, not just their current incomes,” Mr. Neri added. “It’s also very possible that OFWs from oil exporting economies are getting paid on time given the favorable global oil price movements that month.
Remittances received by OFW-dependent families continued to spur further consumption, which is among the key drivers of the local economy.
Personal remittances — which include both cash and in-kind items from migrant workers – hit a high of $28.308 billion in 2015 and fueled household spending, which in turn accounted for nearly a 10th of GDP.

RTA Smart Shelter wins coveted award

It’s full speed ahead for the Road and Transport Authority (RTA), which now hoists the coveted Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart Government Programme flag after winning in the public award category for its Smart Bus Shelters initiative.

Taking its cue from this, Al Shamil Foodstuff Trading, RTA’s private partner operating the Smart Shelters, is expanding operations to provide more services at the shelters, which actually are kiosks inside air-conditioned RTA bus pick-and-drop stations having anything from free wifi to NOL card and mobile phone top-ups, bill payments, care boxes and a convenience store.

Latest copies of The Filipino Times, the UAE’s most widely read English-language weekly running news reports and features about the one-million strong Filipino community, are also available at the shelters.

Speaking on the occasion, the Dubai Crown Prince said getting customers involved to improve services is a sign of governmental leadership as it shows that the real indicator of the government’s performance improvement is public happiness.

“This award is an appreciation from the public,” said Rohit Dalmia, Al Shamil Foodstuff Trading managing director. “The public appreciates what we are doing and we’re looking at other service providers to expand operations,” he added.

New services

According to Dalmia, efforts are underway to install medical equipment at the shelters to help commuters keep a check on their health by tracking blood pressure, body mass index, pulse rate, weight, height and other basic health-related figures.

He said the shelters will soon be insulated with censors to track climate and pollutionrelated data, which will be shared and used by the related government agencies to monitor the city’s environment and make policy decisions on climate change and sustainability.

Digital tablet-based “Happiness Index” app across all Smart Shelters will likewise be introduced to monitor customer experience, satisfaction and happiness levels, according to Dalmia.