Daily Archives: December 11, 2018

Government Communication and Information System launches SADC Media Awards Competition

The South African media are invited to submit their entries for the 2019 SADC Media Awards competition.

The Awards were established following a decision by the Council of Ministers in 1996 to establish a sector that deals with matters relating to amongst others, information, culture and sport. These awards serve as part of ensuring a link, coordination and synchronisation between formal structures of SADC governments, civil society, academia, labour and the media.

To promote regional integration and cooperation (cross-border issues), the awards aim to recognise excellence in journalism in the area of print, photo, television, radio as well as to encourage media practitioners in member states to cover issues pertaining to the region.

Source: Government of South Africa

National Treasury invites comments on the draft Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill 2018

Invitation for public comments on the draft Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill 2018

National Treasury invites public comments on the draft Conduct of Financial Institutions (COFI) Bill 2018, which is published today together with an explanatory policy paper that sets out the policy rationale for the COFI Bill.

The COFI Bill is the next phase of the legislative reforms aimed at strengthening the regulation of how the financial services industry treats its customers. The Bill follows the Financial Sector Regulation Act (FSRA) No 9 of 2017, which established two new authorities with dedicated mandates. The two new authorities are the Prudential Authority (PA) which manages prudential risk (financial health), and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) which manages the market conduct risk across all financial institutions. Both regulators became operational on 1 April 2018.

The FSR Act gives consumers and financial institutions an indication of what to expect of financial sector regulators, while the COFI Bill will outline what customers and industry players can expect of financial institutions.

The Bill aims to significantly streamline the legal framework for the regulation of the conduct of the financial institutions, and to give legislative effect to the market conduct policy approach, including implementation of the Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) principles. These principles currently have little legal backing.

Improving market conduct and customer protection in the South African financial sector extends beyond the establishment of a new regulator. The 2014 discussion document (published along with the Financial Sector Regulation Bill) Treating Customers Fairly in the Financial Sector: A Draft Market Conduct Policy Framework for South Africa sets out the following pillars for improving market conduct and customer protection:

Structural reform of regulatory agencies;

Revised legal framework for market conduct (significantly streamlining the current range of different laws applicable to the financial sector);

Responding to poor conduct practices in the financial sector;

Better empowered customers (including through improved consumer education initiatives, and improved dispute resolution channels through which customer complaints can be resolved)

The Bill, which intends to replace the conduct requirements in existing financial sector laws, is designed to be:

Principles-based: A principles-based approach seeks to set principles that specify the intention of regulation, rather than set rules for financial institutions. A focus on principles should see a shift in both industry and the regulator toward ensuring that their actions are geared toward driving the attainment of certain principles in the financial sector, not only on technical compliance with the law.

Outcomes-focused: Linked to the above, outcomes-focused supervision allows the supervisor to test financial institutions on their delivery of the actual outcomes, testing the financial sector’s effectiveness not only in providing the correct customer outcomes, but in supporting the real economy too.

Activity-based rather than institutionally driven: Shifting away from the institutionally-driven approach, the law will look at defining the activities undertaken in the financial sector. The same regulation will apply to similar activities, regardless of the institution performing the activity. This will create level playing fields amongst stakeholders.

Risk-based and proportionate: the new framework will enable the regulator to monitor the financial sector, identify areas that pose greatest market conduct risks, and use proportionate regulatory capacity to address this these risks. Proportionality will affect the regulator’s supervisory approach, the standards it sets, and the enforcement action it takes.

Furthermore, the Bill will better support the participation of black businesses in the provision of financial products and services, and strengthen the protection of vulnerable consumers. Because it will apply to all financial institutions, it is well placed to support the Financial Sector Code issued under the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act, by requiring financial institutions to comply with that Code.

Objectives of the COFI Bill

The Bill aims to establish a consolidated, comprehensive and consistent regulatory framework for the conduct of financial institutions that will:

Protect financial customers;

Promote the fair treatment of financial customers by financial institutions;

Support fair and efficient financial markets;

Promote innovation and the development of and investment in innovative technologies, processes and practices;

Promote competition;

Promote financial inclusion; and

Promote transformation of the financial services sector.

Source: Government of South Africa

Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana hosts 16 Days of Activism Against violence on women and children

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (GBV) is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from November 25 � the Elimination of Violence Against Women � to December 10, Human Rights Day. We need a Multi-sectoral approach to fight gender-based violence, moreover a successful prosecution rate is also essential to fight the scourge of gender based violence, said Deputy Minister Kekana.

It has become quite evident that everyday should be a day of activism as such government is committed to resourcing Thuthuzela centers; re-establishing the specialised crime fighting units of the SAPS to ensure the swift arrest, prosecution and jailing of perpetrators of horrific crimes against women and children. In addition this must be accompanied by creating safe spaces for reporting these violations.

She said sexual exploitation of women knows no boundaries, patriarchy and women abuse happens to you whether you are in a church or at work. Whether you black or white and the case of minors whether you are a boy or girl.

One hopes that the activism we have seen has made men in particular understand that patriarchy bestows unto them unjust privilege which must be constantly assessed and checked, as such ,government will also educate men and boys about respectful relations and gender equality, while empowering women and girls to live autonomous lives.

Source: Government of South Africa

Burkina Faso’s National Day

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I congratulate the Government and people of Burkina Faso as you celebrate your national day on December 11.

The United States supports Burkina Faso’s efforts to build stronger democratic institutions, promote economic reform, confront terrorist threats, and improve health to ensure prosperity for all Burkinabe. We applaud your cooperation with international and multilateral partners in regional peacekeeping efforts, including your role in the G5 Sahel.

Best wishes on your 58th anniversary. The United States looks forward to strengthening our partnership with Burkina Faso.

Source: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Spain Grapples with Surging Number of Teenage Migrants

BARCELONA, SPAIN Slouched on a bench at a Barcelona police station, five teenagers waited patiently on a recent Friday evening to find out where they would sleep that night: a shelter for young migrants or on that bench.

Earlier that day, another group of boys had been successfully transferred to a nearby shelter, but it was uncertain if any more beds were available.

The boys from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa had all entered southern Spain as unaccompanied minors, crossing from Morocco on what this year has become the biggest migrant route into Europe. Like thousands of other teenagers, mostly Moroccans, they made their way to Barcelona, a city known to many of them for its legendary soccer club.

Official figures show that 11,174 unaccompanied minors were registered from January until the end of September – up from 6,414 in all of 2017.

Sabir, 13, tried to explain why he made the perilous journey, leaving his mother behind.

“The reason every Moroccan comes to Spain: To work,” he said. The Associated Press is identifying the boys interviewed for this story only by their first name in line with Spanish privacy rules on minors.

To many, life in Spain is not what they had imagined.

Instead of finding work, which many are too young for anyway, they end up being transferred between reception centers or sleeping in the streets as authorities struggle to provide housing. Some get caught up in drugs and petty crime in Barcelona.

These boys embody the problems that nations are trying to solve by adopting the world’s first migration accord this week. The non-binding U.N. pact being finalized Tuesday aims to help countries cooperate to manage migration; yet the U.S. under Donald Trump and several European countries are refusing to sign on.

Spain has seen growing numbers of migrants after Italy began to stem the flow of sea arrivals from Libya last year. But the reasons for the surge in Moroccan boys are unclear, though high youth unemployment and a government crackdown on protesters in the northern Rif region are believed to be among them.

Barcelona, the capital of the prosperous Catalonia region, has been particularly affected. It’s a popular destination for many boys partly because it’s relatively close to the border with France, where some of the boys hope to go eventually.

The surge in minors prompted Catalan authorities to open 120 shelters with over 2,000 beds in less than a year, including in small rural towns.

“The volume of arrivals of children traveling alone in Catalonia has been absolutely disproportionate,” said Georgina Oliva, who heads the regional government office responsible for the minors.

According to local figures, there are over 3,000 unaccompanied minors in Catalonia. The number is three times higher than that recorded by the Interior Ministry, highlighting the difficulty in keeping track of the young migrants, some of whom run away from the shelters they’re assigned to.

Sabir left a shelter in a small Catalan town and returned to Barcelona together with Astraf, a 17-year-old from Tangiers, Morocco.

“No one likes to live in the mountains,” Astraf said.

More than 57,000 migrants of all ages have arrived in Spain this year, most of them by sea, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. That’s a 130 percent increase since last year, and means that Spain has overtaken Italy and Greece as the main entry point for migrants coming to Europe.

Overall, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean is down about 30 percent from last year.

For Oriol Amoros, who heads the office in charge of migration in Catalonia, the young age of the migrants is more worrisome than their numbers.

“From a demographic point of view, it is a not a very big influx, but it is an influx of very vulnerable people who require a considerable effort when receiving them,” he said, highlighting that minors are by law entitled to legal protection, care and education.

Spain has adopted a more welcoming attitude toward migrants than many other European countries under the center-left government that took power this year. But not everyone concurs. An upstart far-right political party campaigning against migrants – particularly Muslims – recently won its first seats in a regional assembly in the southern region of Andalusia, the entry point for many migrants coming to Spain.

Alhadji, 16, arrived in Spain in July after fleeing poverty in his native Guinea-Bissau two years ago. He is among 110 underage boys from sub-Saharan Africa set up in a hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona, where he shares a room with four other teenagers. On the wall hangs a photo of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo wearing a Real Madrid shirt.

Alhadji is learning to read and write at the shelter; his family couldn’t afford to send him to school at home. Despite the hospitality he’s received, Alhadji knows he’s one of thousands of minors seeking better opportunities, and it will take time before he gets the necessary permits to live and work legally in Spain. If he’s lucky, he’ll get them before he turns 18.

“They help you a bit. It’s not easy, there’s a lot of people, it is not just you,” he said.

In another part of Barcelona, a small group of young Moroccans inhaled fumes from a cloth damped with cleaning chemicals outside an internet cafe. The youngest was 11 and said he smuggled himself into Spain by hiding underneath a truck. Three of the boys said they had left their shelters in rural Catalonia and would sleep in the streets that night.

A Moroccan man passing by stopped to speak with them in Arabic. Mohammed el-Khamraoui said he sympathized with the boys because just like them, he had entered Spain illegally a decade ago aged 15.

“When I see the boys like this, I can’t even say anything,” said el-Khamraoui, who now works as a cook. “It hurts my soul because I’ve been in this situation.”

Source: Voice of America