small businesses – Grantstation Trendtrack Tue, 29 Mar 2022 01:21:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 small businesses – Grantstation Trendtrack 32 32 Focus on youth jobs could undermine $4 billion digital adoption program, business groups say Sun, 13 Mar 2022 22:13:02 +0000

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Economic Development Minister Mary Ng and EDC President and CEO Isabelle Hudon, left, listen to Sheena Russell, founder of Made with Local, speak via videoconference during a press conference on Canada’s Digital Adoption Program at Bayview Yards in Ottawa, March 3.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Business groups say they are concerned that a new $4 billion federal program to modernize the technology used by small businesses could be undermined by its dual purpose of boosting youth employment.

The federal government announced the Canadian Digital Adoption Program earlier this month. It includes micro-grants to fund the creation of websites, larger grants for finance the development of business plans and loans of up to $100,000 for businesses to use for technology upgrades, such as robotics or inventory management software.

The program also aims to create up to 28,000 jobs for young people through two components. One strand, largely inspired by an Ontario nonprofit called Digital Main Street, aims to employ 11,200 young Canadians as a kind of tech support team for small business owners. Workers will be hired at a dozen nonprofits across the country, one of which will be Digital Main Street itself.

The other component aims to place 16,800 undergraduates or recent graduates in temporary or permanent jobs with companies that are upgrading their technology. Young people will be hired directly by companies and the government will provide $7,300 in wage subsidies to employers for each position.

Groups that represent small businesses say they welcome government grants and loans, but are unsure whether young people hired under the scheme will come to the workplace with the right skills.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said that while younger Canadians may be more comfortable with social media than older business owners, the hardest part of adoption of digital technologies is how they change business operations, an area that students may not be familiar with. on.

“It’s not that hard to set up a website or an e-commerce site, and there are services that do that. But you have to redesign your whole system behind it to be able to run those commands,” Kelly said.

“Just knowing the technology as a consumer doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bridge the gap with the company that needs to move in to attract that consumer. It’s the business processes that are the tricky part here.

Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies and inclusive growth at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the government may not be taking into account that hiring young workers can present costs in the form of staff time to hire and mentor new recruits.

“If you cover the cost of the student, that’s fantastic,” Ms Nord said. “But it focuses on the student. There’s a capacity issue, it’s true, about onboarding, sorting through resumes, making sure people fit in as well. There is both a time and financial cost to businesses that is not always covered.

Young people who complete the technical support stream will receive 35 hours of training, according to Digital Main Street. Training modules will include courses on interpersonal skills (eg how to provide constructive feedback) and e-commerce (eg how to create an online store through the Square or Shopify platforms).

Mark Patterson, executive director of the non-profit Magnet, which runs the internships, said he hoped the young recruits would prove their usefulness once in the job and that the temporary jobs would become permanent upon completion. from the program.

Mr Patterson said Magnet receives $139 million for its part in helping find candidates for the jobs and finding them internships. Of this amount, $122 million is budgeted for wage subsidies. A business will receive its $7,300 subsidy once it has paid at least that amount in wages to a worker.

Mary Ng, federal minister for international trade, export promotion and small business, said she hoped businesses would become more profitable by adopting new technologies, which would provide the revenue needed to retain new employees.

“Let’s create a win-win,” she said.

The minister’s office was unable to say how much money had been earmarked for technical support positions.

Small business owners who spoke to The Globe and Mail over the past year about the Digital Main Street program said their experiences with it were generally positive, although the quality of technical support they received varied.

Katelyn Pierre, owner of Baked by Kay home bakery in Brampton, Ont., said she had communication issues with the first support person she was matched with. But the program then assigned her another counselor, who she called “incredible.”

“She covered a lot of really good information,” Ms. Pierre said.

Labor market experts say there is a need to increase job opportunities for young Canadians due to continued weakness in sectors that traditionally hire young workers, such as food service.

Tony Bonen, acting executive director of the Labor Market Information Council, said that in general, young Canadians could benefit from ready-to-use digital skills.

“These Gen Z kids are often referred to as digital natives, but being a digital native doesn’t magically become a business-ready skill unless you have some real-world practice,” said Mr Bonen.

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Admin eats $20m in NSW flood grants | The Murray Valley Standard Mon, 07 Mar 2022 03:24:55 +0000

The Premier of New South Wales has apologized to communities devastated by floods in northern New South Wales after many felt ‘left behind’ as it was revealed that millions of dollars allocated to flood relief will be eaten up by administrative costs,

More than $20 million of the $434.7 million in flood recovery funding announced last week could be used for the government’s grant administration costs, an Estimates hearing said Monday.

ServiceNSW CEO Damon Rees told the hearing that the arrangement “provides up to 5% of the stipend to cover implementation and administration costs.”

This “reflects the cost of implementing and supporting customers throughout the life cycle of these programs,” he said.

Grants of up to $75,000 for farmers and $50,000 for small businesses and nonprofits, announced Thursday, are co-funded by federal and state governments.

It comes as heavy rain and thunderstorms continue to smash the coast, posing a new flood risk for several river systems from northern New South Wales to the southern part of the state.

The heaviest falls are predicted for Greater Sydney and the Hunter region, but moderate flooding is also predicted for the Northern Rivers, Mid North Coast, South Coast, Illawarra and Bega.

Dominic Perrottet said he was sorry for thousands of people in the Northern Rivers district whose homes and businesses were destroyed when towns such as Lismore, Ballina and Mullumbimby were flooded last week.

Many had to be rescued by fellow citizens and have since struggled to access basic necessities such as food, water, electricity, fuel, telephones, ATMs, internet and medical supplies .

“I’m so sorry…but we’re doing everything we can,” Mr Perrottet told Lismore’s Nine Network.

“Some of these areas will look back on this and say it could have been done better but … we are doing absolutely everything we can to provide care and support to those in need to get these essential supplies,” he said. he declares. .

“There’s no doubt that in some of the smaller communities there’s a sense of abandonment and I’m so sorry about that,” the premier told News Corp.

“There isn’t one or two stories, I’ve heard hundreds of them in the past few days.”

The floods claimed six lives in New South Wales, including four in Lismore.

The ADF is helping with the cleanup with 512 people on the ground in New South Wales.

Some 5,000 personnel will be posted or made available in New South Wales and Queensland during this week as 2010 are on the ground in both states, the ADF said.

Job protection has been announced for flood emergency volunteers, to prevent people from being fired or demoted while helping with the cleanup.

The prime minister put the job protection order in place on Monday and said it would remain in effect for 14 days.

About 2,000 of the 3,500 homes assessed so far in Northern Rivers are no longer habitable, a number that is expected to rise, increasing the need for short- and medium- to long-term accommodation.

The total cost of insurance claims in the state has risen to $312 million, the Insurance Council of Australia said, after the estimated total cost of claims in New South Wales and Queensland reached 1 .3 billion dollars.

Some 86,703 applications have been made, 28% from NSW and 72% from Queensland.

Telstra said it had restored around 80 per cent of mobile coverage in northern New South Wales and 75 per cent of landline connections, but flooding and road damage continued to hamper their technicians.

Australian Associated Press

Two weeks left to comment on proposed workplace parking tax Tue, 01 Mar 2022 14:47:36 +0000

Posted on Tuesday, March 1, 2022

PEOPLE are reminded to make their views heard at a public consultation on the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) proposals which lasts another two weeks.

The city council is proposing the citywide scheme under which large employers would pay to provide parking spaces for their staff – the revenue from the scheme helping to fund a radical overhaul and long-term modernization of parking networks. public transportation, biking and walking in the city. .

An extensive 12-week public consultation runs until Sunday March 13, giving individuals and employers the opportunity to get more details about the proposed WPL and how it will work, and to comment on the program.

These improvements are essential to meet the strict climate emergency and air quality targets set by the government and the city council itself, as well as to deal with congestion and connect new housing estates to sustainable transport.

Under the WPL, most employers with more than 10 spaces would pay £550 per space per year for a license to provide parking for their employees. The high number of small businesses in Leicester means around nine in 10 are too small to pay.

Employers can decide to reduce their spaces, and also decide if and how they want to pass the loads on to their staff.

The income from a WPL could be around £95m in the first 10 years and would allow the council to match other grants to invest up to £450m. This would mean the council could plan long-term investments in transportation rather than simply relying on uncertain government funds.

The WPL is designed to encourage people who regularly travel to the city for work to use alternatives to the car for their daily journeys, while funding the improvements needed to ensure that public transport, bicycle and transport networks City walks provide realistic alternatives to car travel.

Plans for a WPL were presented as part of the council’s draft Leicester Transport Plan 2021-2036, published last summer, which set out priorities to meet the city’s transport needs over the next 15 years. Transportation priorities that a WPL would help fund include:

  • Over 400 high-quality electric tram-type buses by 2030, operating on 25 Mainline services in city districts, and five Greenline suburban express services linking six park and ride facilities.
  • New bus services on the outer ring road and free bus traffic on a city center loop.
  • Prioritize buses on key routes to ensure they run regularly and frequently, using tickets that can be used on different bus services and displaying real-time bus information.
  • Affordable bus fares with discounts for the elderly, disabled, young and unemployed and the ability for all travelers to get the ‘best fare’ on all routes across the city.
  • A comprehensive network of city-wide bike paths connecting existing downtown routes to local neighborhoods.
  • Investment in the rail station to ensure good regional and national connections and to take advantage of the recently secured £22m funding to revamp the station.

A WPL has been operating successfully across Nottingham for almost 10 years, and Leicester City Council is working closely with Nottingham City Council and De Montfort University Leicester, to assess the economic, environmental, transport and of such a program in Leicester. .

Several other local councils, including Bristol and Oxford, are also considering introducing a WPL.

The program would require government approval, after which the program could start in early 2023. The city council would work closely with local employers well in advance to prepare them for its introduction. Between 450 and 600 large companies in the city are likely to be eligible for the program.

The Deputy Mayor of the City of Leicester, Transport and Environment Officer, Cllr Adam Clarke said: “The proposals are designed to address the climate emergency, as well as the inequities and health pressures that will accompany the city’s projected growth over the next 10 to 15 years.

“Revenue from a tax would directly fund measures that are vital as we strive to reach net zero, reduce life-limiting poor air quality and minimize costly traffic jams.

“We produced a short film, outlining our vision and how a WPL could help us achieve it.

“Nottingham City Council have operated a very similar WPL for around 10 years, and they share their experience and expertise with us.

“We gathered evidence of how the tax was collected fairly and designed a program to expand opportunities for everyone, including the many people in the city who cannot afford a car.

“We need to radically expand, improve and electrify public transport if we are to persuade people to leave their cars at home, leaving those who still need to use their cars and vans with fewer traffic jams, making them save time and money.

“We have no fixed timetable proposed for the introduction of any levy, which should be sensitive to wider economic circumstances.

“We know there are other concerns and of course we need to think about any potential unintended consequences. We need to hear from people across the city to hear their concerns as well as what they would expect from such a scheme and how to make it work best for Leicester.

“Before responding to the consultation, I urge everyone to take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on our website, addressing the issues and misconceptions we have identified in our many meetings across the city. over the past few weeks.”

WPL’s proposals are the final stage of work to meet the city’s transportation needs. The City Council is also working on its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), setting out ambitious plans that would significantly improve bus services, vehicles and routes across Leicester in an innovative 10-year project involving a formal partnership between the city council and the local bus. the operators.

Leicester City Council also recently landed £19million from the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, towards a £47million scheme that will see the introduction of nearly 100 new electric buses.

To read the frequently asked questions, watch the short film and participate in the consultation visit here.


India is giving inflation room to grow, but it can bite Tue, 22 Feb 2022 00:06:53 +0000

Indian politicians well understand that elections can be won or lost on onion prices. With only 83 million people in wage jobs in a country of 1.4 billion people, households don’t have much bargaining power over wages to cope with a higher cost of living. What is less appreciated is the differential impact of prices on producers, especially on small farms affected by the pandemic with low profit margins.

India’s wholesale price index, which tracks goods at factory gates, rose nearly 13% from a year earlier in January. The gauge has recorded double-digit increases for 10 consecutive months, even as the benchmark consumer price index, which also includes services, only recently breached the top of the bank’s tolerance range. central 2% to 6% annual earnings.

Still, the Reserve Bank of India is rather optimistic about future inflation and is keeping the market guessing whether interest rates will rise significantly this year. In doing so, the RBI is jeopardizing its credibility for a little extra growth. Is this trade-off worth it if higher prices end up putting small businesses out of business?

Think of the 7% difference between the pace of wholesale price inflation and that of consumers as a cost squeeze. Not all producers can cope with this pressure with the same ease. In the September quarter, when the economy opened up after a second deadly wave of the pandemic, smaller manufacturers of daily consumer goods captured only 2% of the growth in the value of sales compared to the previous year. Large companies took 76%, with medium-sized companies accounting for the rest, according to NielsenIQ.

According to the data provider, pressures on input costs have forced producers to raise prices, especially for food products and cooking media. “This has severely affected small manufacturers,” NielsenIQ says in its report. Companies with sales of 1 billion rupees ($13 million) or less supply almost a fifth of India’s commodity market. In the third quarter of 2021, they were 14% lower than a year earlier.

Some may have folded due to pandemic-related disruptions. Others go bankrupt because, unlike their larger competitors who can absorb some of the escalating raw material costs, the already strained finances of small businesses force them to try to pass the increases on to consumers. Few people succeed. An industry association has warned that a third of India’s edible oil refining capacity could close – and move to Indonesia or Malaysia – because it’s cheaper to import oil refined.

Prices for edible oil, aluminum, tinplate, plastic, paper and glass are near their highest in a decade, while those for coffee, sugar, wheat and milk are above their 10-year average, Mumbai-based brokerage Prabhudas Lilladher noted last week in its analysis of Nestle India Ltd’s December quarter results. As product and packaging costs soared, the maker of Maggi, Nescafé and KitKat sacrificed 210 basis points in gross margins to boost revenue by 9% year-on-year. He squeezed payroll and overhead costs to keep operating profitability — the ratio of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to sales — intact.

Small businesses don’t have that kind of stamina. Many of them made use of a government credit guarantee to access new loans to survive the worst of the pandemic. According to economists at the State Bank of India, the safety net has prevented $24 billion in credit to micro, small and medium enterprises from going bad, protecting the livelihoods of as many as 15 million workers.

However, these companies are not exactly out of the woods. When it comes to servicing their debt, credit bureau TransUnion Cibil estimates that 18% of borrowers were in worse shape in March 2021 than when they took out the emergency loans.

Big companies are flexing their marketing muscles. Unilever Plc’s Indian unit recorded its highest market share gain in a decade during the December quarter. But as financially constrained small manufacturers lay off workers, people’s purchasing power threatens to erode further, hurting weak consumer demand and making it harder for other vulnerable producers to survive.

This is why the risk of stagflation is high in India. Price spikes in areas such as clothing and footwear, healthcare, transport and communications appear to be taking a structural turn and taking root. After two years of the pandemic, “the inflationary trend in these categories instead of easing has further increased even as consumer demand is weak,” says Sunil Kumar Sinha, an economist at India Ratings and Research Ltd.

The RBI pushes on a chain. Yes, the recovery of the national economy after Covid-19 is far from complete. Output in service industries is 24 percentage points lower than before the pandemic, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. But now it’s the job of fiscal policy, which is kept ultra-loose for a third straight year , to meet a deficient demand.

With Dated Brent crude oil at $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014 and the US Federal Reserve embarking on a major tightening campaign, the time for monetary adventurism is over. Letting domestic prices spiral out of control will not buy India additional growth. It will be quite the opposite if inflation ends up further ruining its small producers.

More from Bloomberg Opinion:

• Why did central banks get the inflation rate wrong? : Blas and Ashworth

• The inflation story doesn’t get any happier: John Authers

• India’s budget poses a risky stimulus package: Andy Mukherjee

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He was previously a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.

UK police struggle to track down billions in Covid loan fraud Wed, 16 Feb 2022 18:14:36 +0000

Last month, five members of a Manchester crime gang were jailed for a total of 46 years for their role in an international ‘chop shop’ ring which used government-backed Covid-19 loans to export cars luxury goods stolen in Dubai.

During his sentencing, Judge Anthony Cross QC asked the government for an explanation of how a defendant with multiple criminal convictions, including a four-year prison sentence for drug-related offences, was able to obtain a loan guaranteed by the state without the “most basic control”.

He told defendant Asif Hussain, 44, from Stockport: ‘You have a total of 48 prior offenses for dishonesty and other offences. That a man like you was able to get a Covid loan defies belief.

The case is part of a series of criminal lawsuits in courts across England and Wales that highlight how the government‘s rebound loan scheme for small businesses battling the coronavirus crisis has been infiltrated by criminals who saw it as a source of easy money.

According to the National Investigation Service, a law enforcement agency, fraud investigations involving 205 suspects and 16 organized crime gangs have been opened, involving what was a flagship business loan scheme.

Natis, who was tasked with prosecuting these gangs after targeting government Covid-19 support programs, said 47 arrests had been made in relation to the bounce-back loan scheme. He added that he was looking at 1,397 other businesses or business associates in connection with the illegal use of bounce loans.

Launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in May 2020 and run by state-owned British Business Bank, the Rebound Lending Scheme has provided 1.1 million small businesses with loans worth over £47 billion in total. sterling. But the program has been criticized for having limited verification of borrowers and no credit checks.

In December, the National Audit Office, Parliament’s spending watchdog, reported that a lack of due diligence had made the bounce-back loan scheme “vulnerable to fraud and loss”, estimating that up to 5 billions of pounds could be lost to fraudsters.

Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, a campaign group, said that while it was positive that investigations had been opened by law enforcement, the scale of the fraud involved meant that the probes were smelled “like a drop in the ocean”.

“The British public will repay the fruits of this extreme negligence and failure to put in place basic fraud protection for years to come,” she added.

Last month Lord Theodore Agnew resigned as Whitehall’s efficiency minister after sharply criticizing the government’s ‘dismal record’ in tackling fraud around the bounce-back loan scheme.

Agnew claimed the government, which had agreed to fully guarantee loans under the scheme, had so far reimbursed banks almost £1bn for defaulted loans.

He added that more than a quarter of this sum was linked to fraudulent loans.

In the ‘chop shop’ case, Manchester Crown Court heard how vehicles including Range Rovers and Porsches were stolen in a series of ‘horrific’ nighttime burglaries.

Police inspect cars cut up by the ‘chop shop’ network in the North West of England © GMP

The gang dismantled the cars for parts in “chop shops” set up in former cotton mills in the North West of England or shipped them to sell in containers in the Middle East.

Prosecutors have explained how two members of the gang used £145,000 they got in bounce-back loans. One member, Hussain, who was a director of Wigan-based German Automotive 365 Ltd, received a £50,000 repayment loan for his fake company within seven days of applying.

In a separate case in November, Judge Cross jailed six men from a drug trafficking gang at Manchester Crown Court for a total of 133 years.

The men were part of a conspiracy to supply cocaine and were convicted of a conspiracy to kidnap and rob an 82-year-old wealthy businessman.

A defendant had secured a £25,000 repayment loan for a south Manchester plastics business which the gang had used as a front for their crime, the court heard.

In a third case in December, two international crime ring bosses responsible for laundering £70m, including £10m from repayment loans, were jailed for a total of 33 years at London Crown Court. Kingston.

Deivis Grochiatskij and Artem Terzyan

Deivis Grochiatskij, left, and Artem Terzyan, were convicted of money laundering after exploiting the loan scheme © NCA

Artem Terzyan, 38, from Russia, and Deivis Grochiatskij, 44, from Lithuania, were convicted of two counts of money laundering after exploiting the loan scheme, with £3.2million received from a single bank, according to the National Crime Agency.

In his remarks on the sentencing, Judge Rajeev Shetty said British taxpayers would be “stunned and upset if part of their hard-earned tax contributions were going into the pockets of criminals”.

Mike Levi, professor of criminology at Cardiff University, said he was not surprised at the level of fraud on the bounce-back loan scheme given the lack of credit checks in the early stages of the pandemic.

“There was a lot of money and the attitude of individuals or fraudster networks was to think it was just a giveaway,” he added.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which oversaw the rebound loan scheme, said government support had provided ‘a lifeline to millions of businesses’ and protected millions jobs.

He added: “We continue to crack down on Covid-19 fraud and will not tolerate those who seek to defraud the UK taxpayer”, and that he was working closely with lenders and enforcement authorities to ” ensure that those who commit fraud suffer the consequences”. ”.

Natis has so far recovered £4.8million lost in illegal rebound loans, but lawyers have said the chances of recovering larger sums are slim.

Unknown associate (Pixelized by NCA) kisses stacks of cash in Deivis Grochiatskij's apartment
An unknown associate (pixelated by the National Crime Agency) clutches stacks of cash in Deivis Grochiatskij’s apartment © Richard Gardner/Shutterstock

Peter Binning, partner at law firm Corker Binning, said: ‘It’s pretty clear that the government intended to get money out to the public as quickly as possible and they took no adjacent action to put put in place anti-fraud measures.

“Once the money comes out. . . the chances of recovering it are low.

Coalition seats favored in NSW ‘refresh and renew’ grant funding Tue, 08 Feb 2022 19:03:00 +0000

The New South Wales government is facing new pork barrel allegations over payments from a tourism fund heavily geared towards coalition-held areas.

Proprietary analysis of around seven in 10 grants from the ‘Refresh and Renew’ scheme went to businesses in coalition constituencies, leading Labor to decry ‘clear bias’ in the funding process.

Never-before-seen documents also reveal that a grant was awarded to a company owned by a director of a tourist board who selected applications for evaluation, despite a warning of a potential conflict of interest.

There is no suggestion that the business owner has done anything wrong.


The government said in February last year it had earmarked $1 million to fund the grant scheme, which gives eligible businesses $10,000 to spruce up their facilities so customers can have a better holiday.

A labor analysis of the locations of successful candidates found that only 32% were in non-government constituencies.

The remaining 68% of the funding went to companies in Liberal and National seats.

This is despite coalition MPs only holding around half of the seats in the NSW lower house.

One of the $10,000 grants went to a business in the central north coast that is owned by one of the trustees of a government board involved in assessing applications.

The application was assessed by other officials from the same NSW Government ‘destination network’ where the business owner was a board member, and chosen from a handful of other applications for consideration for funding.


The application has been brought up for assessment by the Destination NSW tourism agency, which is overseeing the funding process.

An email sent to Labor under an order of parliament shows colleagues at the destination network feared a conflict of interest.

“I have not opened or assessed (the application) given that the owner and likely candidate…is a director of the board and in consideration of a perceived conflict of interest,” an official wrote. in an email in May last year.

“Please let me know how you would prefer me to handle this.”

The email said the colleague’s application was one of 159 that had been received in that particular part of the state.

Only 18 of them succeeded.

“All applications were assessed against the same criteria, with the electorate not being a factor or consideration in any aspect of the assessment or recommendation,” a spokeswoman for Destination NSW said in response to questions from NCA News Wire.

The spokeswoman said the business owner who was part of the local tourist board was not involved in evaluating his own application.

“Once again the NSW Government has been caught treating public funds like its own piggy bank,” said Opposition Leader Chris Minns.

“Thousands of eligible small businesses outside the Coalition electorates missed out on a fair share of grants.”

“Dominic Perrottet must put the community before his political party and his friends.”

Mr Minns called on the government to back a bill to reform the grants process.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres, who had the final say in the ‘Refresh and Renew’ assessment process, did not respond to questions about the grants.

On Tuesday, the New South Wales government faced heavy criticism from the state auditor general for its handling of another grant scheme, the Stronger Communities Fund.

Almost all of the $252 million in that fund went to councils holding government seats, the auditor general said.

Union budget, a pro-development and inclusive budget: Sarbananda Sonowal Tue, 01 Feb 2022 14:57:00 +0000 Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal hailed the Union budget as a pro-development and inclusive budget which will contribute immensely to the growth of the Indian economy.

The Minister also welcomed the special announcement made for the North East region – through the empowerment of the North East Council (NEC) – which will unlock the enormous potential of the region.

He expressed that the people of the North East are happy with the sustained attention received under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and that she has already made significant progress which will only continue. The particular focus on the country’s economic growth is expected via the acceleration of infrastructure development under the model of Prime Minister Gati Shakti. The budget will lead to the creation of employment opportunities in the country.

Sonowal expressed hope that the shipping sector will reach new heights in the coming years and contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of a Gatiman Bharat.

Industry bodies in northeast India have hailed the Union Budget 2022-2023. CII said the 2022 budget is a very balanced budget. “We in the North East would like to thank the Minister of Finance for allocating Rs 1,500 crore for development initiatives that will enable livelihood activities for youth and women in the North East region of be implemented by the North East Council.I am sure that this initiative will definitely improve the economic scenario of the region in the long term.Out of this Rs.1500 crore, Rs 100 crore has been allocated for the construction of the pilot project of Bamboo-Link Road at different locations in various districts of Mizoram which is commendable and has been the result of the tireless efforts of Zoramthanga, CM of Mizoram,” said Abhijit Barooah, Chairman, CII North East Council and Managing Director, Premier Cryogenics ltd.

Pradeep Bagla, Chairman of the State Council of CII Assam and Managing Director of Amrit Cements Ltd, said: “The 2022 budget is a very balanced budget. A 35% increase in investment spending will boost infrastructure and jobs. FM’s special focus on NE delighted me.

Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman of FICCI’s North East Advisory Council, said, “This is a pragmatic budget that focuses on key sectors such as healthcare, infrastructure, MSME technology and financial inclusion”.

Barthakur welcomed the increase in capital spending in the budget. He said, “With the increase in capital expenditure by 35.4%, the actual capital expenditure of the central government will increase to 10.68 Lakh crores, which translates to 4.1% of GDP. This will give a major boost to the sustainability of economic growth.

Barthakur said: “Northeast India is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the country, and the region could benefit immensely from the decision to make legislative changes to promote agroforestry and private forestry. The old economic model of rapid growth is now recognized as the fundamental cause of the depletion of our natural resources. Since 2020, climate and biodiversity risks have topped the World Economic Forum’s annual risk report analyzing business perceptions of economic risk. Climate change has cost the world more than $150 billion a year since 2017.”

Dipankar Barua, Chairman of the FICCI Assam State Council, said, “This is a progressive budget that balances competing demands from different sectors. The focus on trust-based governance and improving the ease of doing business will boost economic development. »

The Federation of Industry and Commerce of the North East Region (FINER) welcomed the 2022 budget. Finer Chairperson Pabitra Buragohain said that to help small businesses recover from the pandemic, the budget was proposing to extend the Emergency Lending Scheme (ECLGS) to MSMEs until March 2023. and extend its guarantee coverage from Rs 50,000 crore to full coverage worth Rs 5 lakh crore. This program will be key to ensuring that MSMEs affected by intermittent lockdowns in states get funding to stay afloat.

RS Joshi, former Chairman FINER, said that the Union Budget 2022-23 is certainly an all-inclusive fiscal booster shot that will not only bring India’s economy back to a high growth trajectory but pave the way for the Next 25 years with a big push digital seen in the budget. The government has managed the pandemic-stricken economy to the point of achieving a remarkable GDP growth of 9.2% in the current year and an expected above 8% growth next year. While the Indian economy has shown strong resilience, the government is focusing on consolidation, sustainability and reforms through digital governance.

Tea Association of India (TAI) said that although it is difficult to identify provisions centered on the tea industry under the Union budget, the tea industry is looking forward to the “ease of doing business” which should free the tea industry from multiple statutory obligations.

TAI added following the “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal”, an allowance of Rs 60,000 crore has been made which would greatly improve the scope of drinking water supply which would benefit the tea industry worker . Also, the PM-Awas Yojna for eligible beneficiaries, which would include tea industry workers and dependents residing in the garden. This should be seen in the context of the provision of section 92 of the Occupational Health and Safety Code Act 2020.

“However the government’s emphasis. of India on fuel blending leaves the door open to levy an additional differential excise duty of Rs.2/-per liter wef 1.10.2022 for unblended fuel. Needless to add, it would cause production costs for the tea industry,” TAI said.

Grant program awards pandemic recovery funds to businesses Sat, 29 Jan 2022 12:00:00 +0000

Pile of dollars, money background

Pile of dollars, money background

Getty Images/iStockphoto

More than $6.2 million was recently awarded to Southern Illinois businesses through the latest round of COVID-19 recovery grants.

The Back to Business program has set aside $250 million in federal relief funds for businesses hit hard by the pandemic. So far, the program has awarded $120 million to 3,202 small businesses, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

In the most recent round, grants between $5,000 and $250,000 were awarded to more than 175 companies in 26 southern Illinois counties. Businesses can use the money for a variety of expenses, from rent, to payroll, to inventory, and more.

Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton received the largest grant of $250,000. In St. Clair County, 20 businesses received a total of more than $1 million, including Good Heavens BBQ in East St. Louis, which received $10,000. The grants also supported hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts such as the Beall Mansion in Alton, which received $15,000.

Here is a table of Southern Illinois companies that received grants in the last round.

Kelsey Landis is an Illinois state affairs and political reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat. She joined the newsroom in January 2020 after her first stint at the newspaper from 2016 to 2018. She graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2010 and received a master’s degree from DePaul University in 2014. Landis previously worked at The Alton Telegraph. At BND, she is dedicated to informing you of what your legislators in Springfield and Washington, DC are doing, and she strives to hold them accountable. Landis has won awards from the Illinois Press Association for his work, including the Freedom of Information Award.

Holyoke distributes $400,000 in federal rescue funds to businesses Sun, 23 Jan 2022 15:25:38 +0000

HOLYOKE — Like many businesses, Holyoke Craft Beer has had to improvise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many.

“It was a wild ride, like a roller coaster,” owner Mike Pratt said with a laugh Friday.

When the coronavirus first arrived in the spring of 2020, the brewery had to shut down its little tavern — “our main thing,” Pratt said. So they started canning beer for the first time, selling it curbside. They teamed up with their neighbors at Cubit Coworks to set up a beer garden last summer, then pivoted again when the weather turned cold, asking their loyal customers to pitch in and sign up for the advance for regular beer orders – a campaign they called “Operation Hunker Down”.

Now Holyoke Craft Beer has changed its plans again, signing with a distributor to start selling beer in the coming weeks in local stores. But this would not have been possible without the help of the town hall.

Holyoke Craft Beer is one of more than 20 companies that have received funding through the city, which last fall committed $800,000 in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for grants to small businesses, primarily in the struggling hospitality industry. This week, the city announced that it had distributed about half of those funds, providing a lifeline to businesses like Pratt’s and 21 other businesses in the city.

“It’s pretty tough out there,” said Kate Preissler, special programs manager at the city’s Office of Community Development.

Preissler said the city has been accepting grant applications on an ongoing basis from businesses since mid-October. This money was given in priority to companies in the hospitality sector, but it also went to companies with a high level of interaction with the public, such as salons and hairdressers. These businesses have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, she said.

The $800,000 in business grants were part of nearly $15 million in federal funds that then-acting mayor Terence Murphy distributed in September. The city will still have nearly $15 million to distribute in a second round this year. The US Department of the Treasury has placed limits on the use of this money, such as public health initiatives, combating the negative economic impacts of the pandemic or infrastructure projects that involve improving supply systems. water or broadband access.

Preissler said the city saw a surge in applications soon after the program was announced, but now expects the remaining roughly $400,000 to last longer. These early projects were in many cases funding projects to help companies pivot their operations as they seek to recover from the effects of the pandemic. With the latest surge in coronavirus cases, however, she said more businesses are now looking for relief funds “just to help people get through the winter”.

“I hear from everyone that we really feel like we’ve backed off again,” Preissler said. “What I also see is just a ton of resilience – people who are just going to pull through and do the best they can.”

For some, the relief money has been used to retain staff or cover operating costs such as paying rent.

“That way they can breathe a little easier so they don’t lose their spaces or catch up on their bills,” Preissler said.

That’s especially true for new businesses, which can’t rely on a loyal, long-time customer base like more established businesses, Preissler said.

Chelsea Falcetti and Tiffany Duchesne own The Plan beauty salon at 420B Dwight St, which has also received funding from the city. They had only opened nine months before the closures that accompanied the early days of the pandemic – just as the business was building a customer base. The abrupt shutdown has essentially forced them to come up with a new business plan, especially given the uncertainty the pandemic has brought, such as increased appointment cancellations.

“I think the most comforting thing to know was that we had the security of paying our rent to provide our salon as a workplace for our staff,” Duchesne said. The Plan is now looking to expand into new territories, renting some space to other companies, for example, and organizing events.

For others, the city’s federal stimulus money went to the equipment needed to transition their business to better survive in a new normal. Some, for example, used the money to create a website to facilitate take-out orders or to schedule appointments, Preissler said. Others used the money to upgrade their POS systems.

Holyoke Craft Beer, meanwhile, used its grant to purchase a beer canning machine. The brewery previously used a manual canning machine, which was taxing and less efficient to operate.

“It would allow us to really get our beer out and distribute it in Western Mass stores,” Pratt said.

The brewery has still not been able to open its tavern – they are currently looking for a new space for it in the city – so being able to sell cans in stores is a big problem for Pratt and his family.

“Without all of this, we wouldn’t be here today,” Pratt said of funding ARPA and other federal aid during the pandemic.

Other businesses that have received funding include restaurants like Fernandez Family Restaurant, Khi & Eli’s Food For The Soul, Lechonera El Paseo, Mel’s Restaurant and Pic’s Pub. Other companies include everything from Julio’s Auto Repair to glassblowers at Battat Glass. The International Volleyball Hall of Fame and the Wistariahurst Museum have also received support.

For Pratt, the fact that Holyoke Craft Beer was chosen as the recipient of city funds means the future is bright for the company, he said. Things may still be difficult, but the company now knows how to adapt.

“It’s a different path than we imagined, but we’re fighting,” Pratt said.

Dusty Christensen can be contacted at

Palm Bay man sentenced to five years in federal prison for COVID relief fraud and tax evasion | USAO-MDFL Tue, 18 Jan 2022 22:52:12 +0000

Orlando, Fla. – U.S. District Judge Anne C. Conway today sentenced Johnson W. Eustache to five years in federal prison for wire fraud and aiding and abetting in the preparation of false tax returns. The court also ordered Eustache to forfeit approximately $700,000 seized from multiple bank accounts, as well as real estate in Palm Bay and Poinciana, which are attributable to the proceeds of the offense.

Eustache had pleaded guilty on August 3, 2021.

According to court documents, from March 2020 through April 2021, Eustache submitted 13 different fraudulent claims seeking a total of more than $2.1 million in pandemic-related emergency benefits. The fraudulent claims consisted of Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and PPP loan servicers and lenders . Eustache submitted some of these requests in his own name and others in the name of associates or involuntary relatives. Eustache included false statements in each of the applications regarding the applicant’s criminal history, number of employees and/or total payroll.

Eustach’s materially false, fraudulent and misleading representations caused SBA and PPP lenders to approve and fund four PPP loans and four EIDL loans, totaling $1,343,029.50. Eustache did not use these funds for payroll or other eligible business expenses, as promised in loan applications. He instead used the funds to make personal financial investments, purchase real estate, and build residential properties.

Additionally, between 2017 and 2021, Eustache worked as a tax preparer, during which time he produced 28 returns for taxpayers; these statements contained false adjustments, false income amounts or false deductions. Eustache fraudulently included these false elements to inflate the amount of refunds to taxpayers. The fake items included fake business Schedule C losses, fake Schedule 1 adjustments to income deductions, fake household employee earnings, and fake W-2 wages. The total loss to the IRS as a result of the false tax returns filed by Eustache was $87,044.

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) is a federal law enacted in March 2020. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering from the economic effects resulting from the COVID pandemic. -19. One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of up to $349 billion in small business forgivable loans for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows small businesses and other eligible organizations to receive loans with a term of two years and an interest rate of 1%. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. The PPP allows interest and principal to be waived if the company spends the proceeds of these expenses within a specified time and uses at least a certain percentage of the loan for payroll expenses.

The EIDL program is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Proceeds from EIDL can be used to cover a wide range of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continued health care benefits, rent, utilities and fixed debt payments. If an applicant also obtains a loan under the PPP, EIDL funds cannot be used for the same purposes as PPP funds.

“Eustache not only fraudulently filed tax returns on behalf of his clients through his tax preparation business, but he also stole the money from a vital PPP loan intended to support struggling businesses. during the COVID 19 pandemic,” said IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent Brian. Payne. “This sentence shows that stopping PPP cheats and unscrupulous tax preparers is a top priority for IRS-CI. With the onset of tax season, taxpayers looking to avoid sleazy preparers and find tips on how to select a tax preparer are encouraged to visit

“This case demonstrates the quick and decisive action taken by the FBI and its federal partners to protect the Payment Protection Program,” said FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson. “We are taking huge investigative steps to ensure fraudsters are not taking advantage of the pandemic.”

“Fraudulent use of any SBA program undermines the spirit and true intent of strengthening the backbone of the national economy – small businesses,” said Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, Special Agent in Charge of the region. East of SBA OIG. “Our office will remain relentless in pursuing fraudsters who seek to exploit the SBA’s vital economic programs. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and commitment to ensuring justice is served. This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General of the Small Business Administration. He was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chauncey A. Bratt and Amanda Daniels. The forfeiture and restitution were handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Andrejko and Julie Simonsen.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: