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Brussels backs efforts to save EU digital tax proposal

Brussels backs efforts to save EU digital tax proposal

LISBON, Nov 8: The European Commission on Wednesday urged backers of an EU-wide tax on high-tech giants to keep pushing the proposal, which has stalled due to opposition from Ireland and Nordic countries, reports AFP. France, backed by EU-presidency holder Austria, has been urging European Union partners to impose a new tax to ensure that global tech platforms like Facebook and Google pay their fair share. Paris argues the measure would be a vote-winning accomplishment for mainstream EU politicians before the European Parliament elections next May, in which anti-Brussels populists could do well. “When it comes to taxation you need to push to make it happen. For me personally it’s a very important proposal,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference at the Web Summit, a annual teach gathering, in Lisbon. “I do hope that the Austrians will keep the pressure to make this happen,” she said. Digital firms pay on average just 9 percent in “effective taxation”, compared to an average of 23 percent for other firms, Europe’s antitrust chief said. “When in a technological revolution, if it’s not to be a wild west, you must be willing to regulate it,” said Vestager. The French government had wanted a tax proposal by the end of the year but on Tuesday Paris agreed to put off its implementation until 2020 to give more time to get opponents on side. European tax rules require unanimous backing by all European Union members. Ireland, which hosts the European headquarters of several US tech giants, leads a small group of otherwise mostly Nordic countries that argue the tax will also punish European companies and stoke Washington’s anger. New Zealand extends base-rate freeze to two years WELLINGTON, Nov 8: New Zealand’s freeze on its benchmark interest rate extended to two years Thursday, with the central bank saying there was little prospect of it moving from record lows until 2020, reports AFP. The official cash rate (OCR) has been unchanged at 1.75 percent since November 2016 as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand takes a hands-off approach to maintaining economic growth. Governor Adrian Orr indicated there was no compelling reason for change. “The OCR remains at 1.75 percent. We expect to keep the OCR at this level through 2019 and into 2020,” he said in a statement. “We will keep the OCR at an expansionary level for a considerable period to contribute to maximising sustainable employment, and maintaining low and stable inflation.” Official data shows unemployment in the September quarter fell 0.5 points to 3.9 percent, a 10-year low that Orr described as “around its maximum sustainable level”. The economy grew 2.7 percent in the 12 months to June, although Orr said one-off factors were behind the strong result and there were downside risks in the short term. He expected inflation — which hit 1.9 percent in the 12 months to September 30 — to stabilise around the bank’s 2.0 percent target. Orr said the mixed data meant that when the base rate eventually moved, it could go up or down. “There are both upside and downside risks to our growth and inflation projections,” he said. “As always, the timing and direction of any future OCR move remains data dependent.”

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