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Latin America cuts Europe travel links over virus fears

first_img“This decision has been taken regionally, so there will be no flights to our continent from Europe,” Edgar Melgarejo, president of Paraguay’s National Directorate of Civil Aeronautics, told reporters.The Peruvian government also suspended flights from Asia.Latin America’s biggest airline, the Chilean-Brazilian carrier Latam, said it was canceling 30 percent of its international flights for a two-month period due to falling demand over the coronavirus crisis.The measure will mainly affect flights from South America to Europe and the United States between April 1 and May 30, the company said.Argentina’s government suspended international flights from the worst affected countries, without stipulating which ones, for 30 days and declared a year-long health emergency.Last Saturday, Argentina was the first Latin American country to announce a death and has had 31 cases.Six Central American states and the Dominican Republic agreed Thursday to formulate a regional contingency plan to complement national efforts to deal with the coronavirus. The region has more than 50 cases, most of them in Costa Rica and Panama. “Countries must prepare their health services, because there will not just be one or two cases,” PAHO epidemiologist Marcos Espinal told AFP.Though still low in terms of global figures, the number of cases in Latin America grew steadily to reach more than 250 in 15 countries, with three deaths.The latest came in Guyana, where a 52-year-old local woman died. She had tested positive shortly after arriving from the United States last week.Following Venezuela and Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru became the latest countries to suspend flights from Europe, where Italy’s death toll from the virus soared past 1,000. Football matches suspended Other measures announced by Duque included suspending prison visits and banning cruise ships landing at the popular ports of Cartagena and Santa Marta.PAHO said it was sending support missions to countries with the weakest health services — Haiti, Venezuela, Honduras and Paraguay. “But everyone has to do their part — governments, civil society, citizens — because it is a multisectoral effort,” Espinal told AFP.Worst hit of the stock markets was Sao Paulo which plunged almost 15 percent by the close. Argentina fell almost 10 percent with Colombia down more than nine percent, Santiago losing over six percent and Mexico 5.3 percent.The Mexican peso closed at 21.64 to the US dollar, its lowest level since January 2017.Sport hasn’t been spared with world football governing body FIFA calling off two rounds of South American qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup due to be played at the end of the month.Regional governing body CONMEBOL also suspended the next round of Copa Libertadores matches to be played next week.The Bahamas government said it had decided to withdraw from hosting the 50th General Assembly of the Organization of American States in June. Latin American states preparing for the onslaught of the new coronavirus on Thursday tightened restrictions on travel links to Europe as the region recorded its third death in the outbreak.Fears over the pandemic swept through Latin American markets, continuing a global rout that began in Asia early Thursday and forced the region’s biggest carrier to slash flights.The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned governments to get ready to cope with the pandemic.center_img ‘Health emergency’ As well as the travel restrictions, Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Anez announced the closure of school and university classes.”I am making an appeal to Bolivians for calm,” Anez told reporters.Mexico’s private Tecnologico de Monterrey, with 150,000 students and 30,000 staff in several states, said it would suspend classes next week and resume them online later in the month.Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said there were no confirmed cases in his crisis-worn country, but said large public gatherings and concerts were now prohibited.”We have to take gradually escalating measures,” he said after announcing the suspension of all flights from Europe for a month.Maduro also halted flights from neighboring Colombia, where President Ivan Duque declared a “health emergency” to help health services respond faster to the unfolding crisis.Socialist leader Maduro said Venezuela was considering closing its borders with Colombia and Brazil but called for “coordination” with the right-wing governments of Duque and Jair Bolsonaro, both of which have branded him a dictator.Maduro’s challenger for power, Juan Guaido, said the pandemic obliged him to reconsider calling his supporters into the streets — a tactic he has used in his so far unsuccessful bid that began last year to force Maduro from power.But he added in a Twitter video: “The fight for democracy is not suspended.”Brazil’s Bolsonaro, who has previously tried to downplay the virus outbreak, has been tested for the disease, his son Eduardo revealed on Thursday.Bolsonaro’s communications chief, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for COVID-19 after a trip to the United States last weekend.Duque also banned gatherings of more than 500 people in the country, which has nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease. 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UK regulator warns on transfers out of DB schemes

first_imgThe UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) has written to trustee boards of defined benefit (DB) schemes urging them to consider reducing the transfer values offered to members when considering exiting the scheme.In a letter sent to a number of large DB funds – obtained by financial services group Royal London under the UK’s Freedom of Information act – TPR advised trustees to consult their actuaries regarding the effects of transfers out of their schemes.DB scheme members in the UK are permitted to transfer their benefits to a defined contribution (DC) scheme. This option has increased in popularity in recent years following a relaxation of the UK’s rules regarding DC retirement options.TPR said in its letter: “In light of recent events concerning your scheme’s sponsor(s), we would expect you to take advice from your scheme actuary about whether the basis on which [transfers] are calculated remains appropriate. “We would also expect you to consider whether a new insufficiency report should be commissioned from the actuary. This would allow you to judge whether a reduction or further reduction should be applied to [transfers] in light of their assessment of covenant strength.”Royal London warned that a scheme granting generous transfer values to members while running a deficit could worsen its funding position, even though it would be reducing its liabilities. Sir Steve Webb, Royal LondonSir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and a former UK pensions minister, said: “I would hope that well run pension schemes would be taking expert advice when deciding how much to offer to members wishing to transfer out.“But the regulator’s letter is a helpful reminder to all schemes that they need to be fair not only to those transferring out but also those left behind, especially where the scheme in question is in deficit.”The regulator said it had “sent letters on 12 occasions to trustees regarding transfer activity” in the year to 26 July.Other recommendationsTPR also recommended that schemes review their member communications, and outlined a number of issues for them to highlight to members.These included:An explanation of the risks of transferring out of a DB scheme, including an emphasis on the loss of a retirement income guarantee;The legal requirement for those transferring out more then £30,000 (€33,300) to seek professional advice from a qualified, authorised adviser;Information about the Pensions Advisory Service, a government-funded organisation that provides free guidance on pension issues; andThe risk of pension fraud.Trustees should also seek to improve their record-keeping to monitor transfer requests, and send the regulator monthly updates about transfer activity, TPR said.As DB to DC scheme transfers have increased, so has the number of reported pension scams – predominantly involving individuals being persuaded to transfer their savings into unauthorised investment funds. During the recent high-profile restructuring of the British Steel Pension Scheme, a number of people were targeted by unauthorised ‘advisers’ who directed them to expensive, inappropriate investments.UK regulators, including TPR and the Financial Conduct Authority, have reiterated that exiting a DB scheme – and forfeiting the guaranteed income stream it provides to retirees – is unlikely to be in the best interests of most members.The regulators have also joined forces to launch a multimedia advertising campaign to raise awareness of pension fraud.last_img read more