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Grandmother and grandson finally to meet as U.S. flights reopen By Reuters

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© Reuters. Bhavna Patel and her daughter Bindiya Patel, who are due to fly to New York to reunite with family following the relaxing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel restrictions, pose at their home in Croydon, Britain, November 5, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Ni

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By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) – For over a year Bhavna Patel has watched her first grandchild grow via FaceTime, talking to him in New York every day while the U.S. travel restrictions prevented her from making the trip from London.

On Monday she is threatening to dance down the aisle of the British Airways plane that will take her to finally meet him, as the United States lifts COVID-19 restrictions that have barred much of the world from entering for over 20 months.

Already she is too excited to sleep, counting down the days, hours and minutes, and wants the world to know of her news. She would also like to wear a large hat announcing that she is about to meet her grandson, Kai.

“I wake up in the night and think: are we really going?” she told Reuters in her home in south London, throwing her hands in the air with excitement. “It’ll just be amazing to hold him.”

The unprecedented restrictions have prevented loved ones and foreign workers from reuniting with families, attending weddings, saying goodbye at funerals, and greeting new babies.

Patel’s son Kushal moved to New York more than six years ago and his most recent visit back, in 2019, is a distant memory. He FaceTimed his family from the hospital in New York to introduce his son and had been urging them to book tickets the second the borders reopened.

For his mother, the hardest part about the separation was not knowing when it would end, and questions from well-meaning friends asking when she would meet her grandson.

“It’s that question, it really takes something out of you,” she said, blinking back tears and looking at photos of her family in New York. “It’s like putting a nail in the heart and knocking. And now I can say: Look, I’m going!”

NEW YORK-BOUND

Patel and her daughter Bindiya will be on BA001, the first New York-bound BA flight leaving Heathrow on Monday, when the U.S. reopens to fully vaccinated international visitors.

The British flag carrier is marking the reopening of the Europe-to-U.S. route with a first flight reserved for friends and families separated during the pandemic, taking royal family photographer Chris Floyd along to capture the moment.

Such is the importance to European airlines of the transatlantic route, BA and Virgin Atlantic are hoping to send two jets down Heathrow’s twin runways for a synchronised takeoff, weather permitting.

On BA001, Bindiya will be carrying the British Cadbury’s chocolate her brother has missed. She wonders how Kai will react when he sees his family “in 3D” for the first time.

“It’s a real pinch-me moment,” she said at their home, where balloons still celebrate Kai’s birthday in October.

Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travellers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and extended to dozens of other countries afterwards.

Bhavna Patel said she would be thinking of all the other families around the world who have not yet had the chance to reunite. She is also worried that an 8-hour flight will feel far too long.

“I don’t think counting days is enough, not days, it’s hours, minutes,” she said. “I want to meet him. Monday is too late, that’s how I feel.”





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Saudi Arabia’s Most admired Companies in 2022

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Insights Success is an archway that caters to Entrepreneurs’ quench of technology and business updates which are currently ruling the business world.
We are ceaselessly proving the best platform for leading companies, which aids indefinite progress while creating meaningful learning experiences for the visitors and invaluable brand awareness for the clients.



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Bank of England raises base interest rate to 1.75%

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The Bank of England has raised the base interest rate by half a percentage point to 1.75 per cent, the biggest rise since 1995, in an attempt to combat runaway inflation.

The nine-strong monetary policy committee voted eight to one in favour of a 50 basis point rise, defying some market expectations for an increase by 25 basis points.

It is the Bank’s sixth consecutive tightening in monetary policy and follows in the footsteps of the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, which have begun aggressively raising rates by larger increments.

Interest rates are now the highest since 2009 as the Bank attempts to bring down inflation, which is running at a 40-year high of 9.4 per cent and is on course to exceed 11 per cent later this year.

These would be the worst inflation rates in the G7, caused in large part by rising global energy prices driving household bills higher this year. The UK economy is also heading for a slowdown this year as consumer incomes are squeezed more tightly than since the 1950s.

Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s governor, has hinted that it will also announce how it intends to begin unwinding the £850 billion of government debt pumped into the economy since the financial crisis, offloading bonds worth between £50 billion and £100 billion from as early as next month.

The Bank will also deliver its quarterly outlook, with Bailey expected to forecast that inflation will rise beyond 11 per cent and remain in double digits into next year. The Bank’s target is 2 per cent.

Commenting on today’s Bank of England interest rate rise, David Bharier, Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “This rise is the clearest signal yet of the Bank of England’s intention to get inflation under control. Spiralling prices are cited by businesses as by far and away the top concern right now.

“However, given the extremely precarious state of the economy, this decision is not without risk for businesses and consumers that are exposed to banking or overdraft facilities.

“There are many causes of the current inflation crisis – global supply chain problems, trade barriers, soaring energy costs, increased taxes, and labour market shortages. Interest rate rises alone will do little to address these.

“Worryingly, our research indicates strongly that most small businesses are not investing for growth, and that longer-term confidence is beginning to wane.





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Opinion: OSC appointment fuss is a tempest in a teapot

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Jeffrey MacIntosh: The government has the legislated right to have a say in the agency’s course

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Ed Waitzer’s recent op-ed (“The issue at the OSC is integrity, not debate,” July 14, 2022) expresses surprise and disappointment in my recent op-ed (“Conflict at the OSC: Why the regulator needs to make room for dissent,” July 7, 2022). In that op-ed, I argued that lawyer Heather Zordel’s appointment as non-executive chair of the OSC in March of this year should be met with open arms, as it introduces new points of view into what seems to be a rather intellectually closed shop. I don’t suppose it will come as a shock to Ed Waitzer or anyone else that I am surprised and disappointed at his rebuttal.

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To begin with, it contains a number of inaccuracies. It states that Ms. Zordel was denied reappointment to her earlier position (2019-2021) as part-time commissioner. In fact, given her busy legal practice, she took herself out of the running. This puts a rather different complexion on the matter.

And I never stated or implied that Ms. Zordel was not reappointed as part-time commissioner because of two dissenting opinions that she wrote as commissioner. My point was that for Ms. Zordel’s critics the dissents were a factor in opposing her appointment as chair of the board.

The nub of my argument was that the OSC could benefit from greater variety of viewpoints among its brass as to what investor protection and other aspects of the OSC’s mission entail. By contrast, Mr. Waitzer argues: “the importance of debate and dissent is not the point here.” I beg to differ. As I indicated, some prominent accounts of Ms. Zordel’s appointment have put a pejorative cast on her disagreements with her fellow commissioners. That puts the issue of debate and dissent front and centre.

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I certainly agree with Mr. Waitzer that the independence of administrative agencies is a cornerstone of our democracy. But does that mean that every administrative agency should be entirely divorced from any government oversight whatsoever — a little fiefdom unto itself and in no sense answerable to its political masters? Not a whit. It is the government that creates the agency, defines its mandate, gives it the powers that it needs to carry out that mandate and defines its organizational structure. And it is entirely within the purview of the government to enlist its legislative power to re-define that mandate, powers, and organizational structure if it chooses.

We don’t have to look into the distant past to find an example. On the advice of a non-partisan blue ribbon panel — the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce (“CMMT”) — the Conservative government has recently substantially reorganized the OSC via the Securities Commission Act, 2021 (declared in force in April). That legislation splits the adjudicative function (the “Capital Markets Tribunal”) from the regulatory function. Moreover, where before the reorganization the OSC Chair and CEO were the same person, the two offices are now split. As expressed by the CMMT, “The Board of Directors, led by the Chair, (will) focus on the strategic oversight and corporate governance of the regulator,” while “The CEO (will) be responsible for the overall management of the organization and execution of the OSC’s mandate.” The directors, including the chair, are all government appointees.

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This new structure, recommended by a non-partisan committee, gives the government of the day the power to influence, at the highest level, the strategic direction of the OSC. But why should it not? If the government is dissatisfied with the strategic vision or regulatory philosophy of the regulator or the manner in which it is being implemented, it would be profoundly anti-democratic — and at odds with the rule of law — to forbid the government from seeking to alter the agency’s course.

Indeed, the Ontario Securities Act states “The Commission is an agent of the Crown in right of Ontario.” The key word here is “agent.” It is not “hegemony,” “fiefdom” or “satrapy.” At the end of the day, the OSC is a government creation performing regulatory functions ceded to it by the government.

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Do Ms. Zordel’s conservative connections compromise the independence of the institution of which she is now head? Absolutely not. In the making of such appointments, the twin issues of competence and integrity will take up a lot of shelf space. But why should the government not also consider, if it chooses, whether potential nominees share the government’s regulatory philosophy

The true worry about political interference is that the government might attempt to dictate or influence the result of particular cases. But the new legislation builds in the important protection of ceding no operational powers to the board of directors. Thus, aside from the government’s power to approve or decline proposed rule changes (a longstanding feature of securities regulation), its sole discretionary avenue of influence lies in its power to appoint directors and hence influence high-level strategic direction.

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What is left of the argument that there has been inappropriate political interference over the OSC? Only the assertion that Ms. Zordel and three other part-time commissioners were appointed without the government having consulted the OSC, as has customarily been done. Yes, it would have been better if the government had consulted the OSC. In all likelihood, however, the outcome would have been the same. The OSC might not like not having been consulted but at best this is a foible not a fiasco.

In the end, this tempest easily fits within a standard-issue teapot.

Financial Post

Jeffrey MacIntosh is a professor of law at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and a director of the Canadian Securities Exchange.

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