Monthly Archives: May 2016

What is Brazil launches for their economy

It plans to sell off four airports and two port terminals as well as offer contracts to private firms for a wide range of projects from building new roads to running mining projects.

President Michel Temer, sworn in two weeks ago after his predecessor Dilma Rousseff, was removed from office, said the plan would boost growth and jobs.

“The state cannot do it all,” he added.

The plans are part of the new president’s “Crescer” (“Grow”) initiative, which aims to increase private investment in the country, in an attempt to address its huge budget deficit amid the country’s worst recession in 80 years.

Brazil’s economy contracted 3.8% last year, and is expected to shrink a further 4.3% this year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Mr Temer was vice-president, but took over as president at the end of August after Ms Rousseff was impeached and removed from office on charges of illegally manipulating the government’s accounts.

He has pledged to make pension and labour reforms as well as make infrastructure investments more attractive to private firms and foreign investors.

The government will scrap a rule that state-run oil firm Petrobras has to have a 30% stake in all new oil reserve developments.

And auction rules will be printed in English as well as Portuguese in a bid to attract overseas investors.

The Georgeous Things of Free in Your Country

From mineral water to water slides, things that are free in some countries often cost in others, sometimes much to the surprise of travellers venturing out of their homeland.

To find out what bargains can be had abroad, we looked to question-and-answer community to ask, “What are some things free in your country that you have to buy when visiting other countries?” The answers not only revealed good deals, but a fascinating insight into the local culture.

Northern India and Pakistan
Pretty much every grocery shop in this part of the world offers a free and generous side of fresh coriander and green chillies, common local ingredients in curries and chutneys.

“In most of northern India… dhaniya-mirch (coriander and chillies) is synonymous with groceries,” said Khusrau Gurganvi from Varanasi. So much so that he explained that “Kal dhaniya-mirch lana hai” translates into “I need to buy groceries tomorrow.”

An anonymous answerer echoed the perk within Pakistan. “Whenever you go to buy vegetables, the shopkeeper will give you a handful of free coriander and green chilli,” the person said. “If they don’t, then all you have to do is ask.”

Not every free thing mentioned was a physical object. It seems that in India, people enjoy an unlimited supply of advice.

“In other countries, there are wedding planners. Here, we have aunts, uncles, uncle’s uncles to give us advice for free,” said Mehul Manot from Calcutta. “In other countries, there are counsellors. Here, we have the ever-poking neighbours: ‘You shouldn’t take up Arts, it’s for girls. Do engineering, you’ll earn lakhs per month.'”

He added that travel agents are replaced by jet-setting cousins, and trendy friends step in for fashion consultants.

Advice doesn’t always have to come from just friends and family, either.

“In other countries, you need to pay for consultations, but in India you can get it free of cost at tea stalls, [during] marriages or family functions, [on] trains, buses by almost anyone,” said Kanchan Saxena, who currently lives in the United States. “We love giving advice.”

United States
Fast food may have originated in the US, but the free condiments that generously accompany meals haven’t always translated to their counterparts overseas.

American Jon Baldwin experienced this first hand when visiting a McDonald’s drive-through in the United Kingdom and noticed his bag of food was conspicuously missing the typical sauce packets.

“Excuse me, you forgot the ketchup,” he told the server. “Instead of reaching for ketchup packets, she starts typing away on the cash register: 50p.”

To make matters worse, the 50p went toward just a single ketchup packet. “In the US, not only do they not charge for ketchup, they hand you like 10 packets when you ask. Literally a fist full of ketchup.

Dave Holmes-Kinsella vouched for the fact that his American wife “was driven into fits of rage by the capricious condiment tax” in his native New Zealand, especially since salt and sugar sides come free.

A different kind of condiment is given away in abundance in this small nation.

“We have unlimited, free access to chilli sauce in any fast food restaurant and any food court,” said native Joseph Lee. “We literally eat anything and everything with chilli sauce, from the iconic chicken rice to McDonald’s hamburgers.”

In fact, McDonald’s even makes a “garlic chilli sauce” that’s exclusive to the heat-loving Singapore market.

To accompany Australia’s great outdoors, the country offers plenty of free things to enjoy outside.

“Many public parks and national parks have free barbeque hot plates,” said Christopher Mardell from Adelaide. “You bring meat and whatever else you want to cook, push a button to start it up and away you go. After 20 minutes or so, they turn off automatically, so you push the button again.” All visitors have to do is keep it clean, and Mardell said most people follow this etiquette.

In the Northern Territory, residents can enjoy a unique respite from the heat.

“As the waters are croc infested, residents can cool down by using free water slides,” said Jane M, originally from England. Leanyer Recreation Park in Darwin is just one example, with three large water slides (including a 124m-long raft ride) and a water playground and pool – all completely free.

Who is the next Acer CEO

Stan Shih, co-founder of Taiwanese PC-maker Acer, on Wednesday said the current President and CEO Jason Chen would take the position of chairman from June 2017.

“Jason would be best candidate to take over the company and be the next leader of Acer,” said Shih, also a major shareholder of the Taiwanese company. “I hope Jason could perceive Acer as his own company and not take the position only as a job or simply be just another professional executive.”

In Taiwan, a chairman, rather than the chief executive, is the most powerful person in a company. Chen, formerly senior vice-president of worldwide sales and marketing at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chipmaker, joined Acer at the beginning of 2014 and managed to turn around the embattled company in less than a year.

Acer Co-founder Stan Shih said the company’s current CEO Jason Chen is the best candidate to take over as chairman (Photo by Cheng Ting-Fang)

Before 2014, Acer suffered heavy losses for three years, losing as much as 20.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($647 million) in 2013. Shih’s predecessor, the company’s former Chairmain and Chief Executive J.T. Wang, resigned in late 2013 following the worst-ever loss in the company’s history.

Once an industry leader, Acer had been hit hard by a severe slump in the global PC market, and its failure to keep pace with the rise of mobile technology in recent years.

For the second quarter ended June, Acer shipped 4.41 million PC units, trailing Lenovo Group, HP, Dell, Asustek Computer and Apple Inc., according to research company Gartner. Overall PC shipments are expected to decline 7.3% in 2016, according to another research company IDC.

For the first half of 2016, Acer reported that net profit more than doubled to NT$585 million from a year ago. But revenue fell 12.2% to NT$112.47 billion, due to strong headwinds in the PC business.

After news of Chen’s appointment, market observers speculated that Shih would eventually choose his elder son Maverick Shih, current head of Acer’s new business of cloud services and smart devices, to take over his computing empire.

Shih, however, said his son is not yet qualified enough to even sit on the board.

“Maverick has no privilege in the company and he’s still got whole a lot to learn before I would hand my seat on Acer’s board to him some day in the future,” said Shih.