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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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SolarCity surges to new high

Category : Stocks

Shares of the solar panel maker hit a new high ahead of its quarterly results, sparking a rally in other solar stocks.

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VIDEO: Annan: Africa ‘not getting fair deal’

Category : Business, World News

Chair of the Africa Progress Panel Kofi Annan says that Africa is not getting a fair deal, ahead of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town.

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Haven’s First Solar Powered Caravan

Category : Stocks, World News

Haven trials its first holiday home with a mounted solar panel on its roof at Rockley Park Holiday Park, Poole.

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Bali post-2015 talks may yield progress on private sector tax payments

Category : Business

Private sector can be a driver of development – but only if developed countries address global tax laws

Developing countries fully realise the importance of the private sector in creating jobs, a theme that dominates all national consultations conducted by the UN on any future set of development goals.

Harnessing the power of business for development has long been a subject of discussion. “Productive capacity”, another term for business, featured prominently in the conference of the least developed countries in Istanbul in 2011.

So it is in Bali, where a UN high-level panel appointed by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, is holding its third substantive meeting on the development agenda after 2015, focusing on global partnerships. In recognition of the role of the private sector, the UN panel includes Paul Polman, the boss of consumer goods giant Unilever.

The private sector is certainly being trumpeted by Justine Greening, the UK’s international development secretary, who is deputising for David Cameron because the prime minister could not make it to Bali due to a diary clash.

In a recent speech at the London Stock Exchange, Greening said she wanted to see “far more businesses joining the development push with the Department for International Development” (DfID). Her enthusiasm for the private sector is not shared by many civil society groups. In a communique released on Sunday, civil society organisations struck a sceptical – if not hostile – note to business.

“The private sector is increasingly emphasised by governments as an important development actor, but it is one that lacks appropriate regulation and accountability: the conditions for private sector engagement risk undermining development gains rather than supporting them, through sharply escalating human inequalities,” said the communique.

The NGO Save the Children has adopted a more nuanced position, acknowledging the private sector as an important driver of development – creating jobs, innovating, providing products that meet development needs and through paying taxes.

Citing the $648bn of inward foreign investment to developing countries in 2011, Save the Children said in a new policy brief (pdf) that the engagement of the private sector in the conception and implementation of the post-2015 development framework is critical to its success.

Businesses, however, should adopt a “do no harm” approach, argued the brief authors. This means analysing the potential harm that products, practices and suppliers and their day-to-day business may do.

“It means they must adhere to legislation, but much more than that, it includes adhering to international human rights standards, respecting international labour and safety conventions, paying taxes appropriately, and addressing environmental impact,” said the report.

That multinationals should pay their fair share of taxes may be one of the concrete results from this high-level panel process, said Claire Melamed, head of the growth, poverty and inequality programme at the Overseas Development Institute thinktank.

“If there is momentum on sorting out tax rules, then it is a big step,” she said. “If developed countries sort out global tax laws, this could be one of the things people will remember from this process.”

The debate on jobs and taxes reflects the Jekyll and Hyde approach of the private sector. Greening neatly – if inadvertently – encapsulated this in her London speech, when she praised SAB Miller, the brewing giant, for working with 1,200 farmers in South Sudan to supply its brewery in the capital, Juba; according to ActionAid, governments in Africa may have lost as much as £20m through SAB Miller’s non-payment of tax.

“You do see companies with a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) that do everything to avoid taxes,” said one business representative who did not want to be named. “They will say it is within the law but, if they have aggressive tax avoidance, how does that sit with their CSR declaration?”

How indeed. Save the Children is urging the high-level panel to recommend in its report to the UN general secretary in May that all parties to the post-2015 goals ensure greater transparency and accountability by all companies. A potential indicator would be a legislative requirement that all large companies report on their non-financial performance – a commitment that would cover environmental, social and governance impacts.

Such legislation, said Save the Children, could be accompanied by a robust set of guidelines that could take the global reporting initiative – a framework for gauging sustainable businesses – as a starting point.

There are various other instruments on accountability, such the UN’s global compact, which sets out guidelines for corporate behaviour, the EU’s accounting directive and the extractive industries transparency initiative, to name but a few. In fact, part of the problem is the proliferation of transparency mechanisms – hence Save the Children’s favouring of the GRI, which it considers the most sophisticated existing framework.

The commitments to transparency and accountability could be the condition for businesses that want to be “partners” in development, said Melamed. The incentive for businesses would be the chance to tap new markets and make profits, but the quid pro quo would be for them to abide by such principles as the GRI.

“Governments,” said Melamed, “can say to companies that want to be partners, for example, in nutrition goals: ‘You can’t be be in the partnership unless you meet transparency on reporting and labour standards’.”

China’s Suntech in $541m default

Category : Business

China’s Suntech Power Holdings, the world’s biggest solar panel maker, defaults on payment of $541m worth of bonds.

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JP Morgan accused of hiding losses

Category : Business, World News

US bank JPMorgan Chase is accused by a US Senate panel of hiding its huge “London whale” trading losses, worth $6.2bn (£4.1bn).

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Verimatrix Highlights New Video Distribution Strategies During the Multi-Network Forum at TV Connect 2013

Category : Stocks

Panel of Experts Discuss the “Operator as an App” Market Dynamic in Multi-Screen Solutions

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Household income is measure of economic recovery, LSE panel says

Category : Business

London School of Economics commission calls for income statistics to be published alongside quarterly GDP figures

Politicians should track progress in repairing Britain’s recession-scarred economy by measuring how the average household is faring instead of focusing on GDP alone, according to a report by a panel of heavyweight economists.

The London School of Economics Growth Commission, in findings published on Thursday, calls for statistics on median household income to be published regularly alongside quarterly GDP figures, and to be used as a measure of whether government policies are working.

The high-level panel – including Nobel prizewinner Chris Pissarides, ex-BP boss John Browne, the three former Bank of England rate-setters Richard Lambert, Rachel Lomax and Tim Besley, as well as the LSE’s John Van Reenen, director of its centre for economic performance – offers a series of prescriptions for tackling the long-term failings of the UK economy.

They argue that tracking median household income in the runup to the financial crisis would have revealed that the benefits of growth were being swallowed up by a small segment of society. “Increasing inequality is not an inevitable byproduct of growth, especially if policies are pursued that make growth more inclusive,” the report says.

In what they bill as a “manifesto for growth”, the authors argue that in three areas – human capital, infrastructure, and long-term investment – the UK risks falling behind its international rivals.

They call for a boost to education, through the creation of a “flexible ecology” of school types, and longer probation periods and better rewards for the best-performing teachers, to improve the chances of children from low-income families.

The authors would also like to see a “new institutional architecture” for major planning projects, to prevent politicians delaying decisions for decades and ensure the economy’s long-term needs are met on the basis of the best expert advice.

“Nowhere is the problem of UK infrastructure better illustrated than by airport capacity in the south-east, where generations of politicians have prevaricated to a point where there is serious risk to London’s position as a major hub.”

Under the regime advocated by the economists, there would be a national-level infrastructure strategy board, to give independent expert advice; an infrastructure planning commission to draw up and approve plans for specific projects; and a new infrastructure bank to provide a mix of public and private finance.

Channelling long-term investment to promising small businesses is another major shortcoming of the UK economy, according to the report, which calls for the government to boost competition in banking, and encourage alternative sources of finance, including by removing the tax advantages of debt-fuelled takeovers.

The latest official figures, published by the Bank of England on Thursday, show that net lending to businesses continued to decline last month.

The panel is also highly critical of the prime minister’s decision to promise a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, saying: “Calls to leave the EU through a referendum are not only misguided: they create the very uncertainty that will damage investment and productivity right now. It is analogous to the needless self-inflicted wounds that the US is causing in its debates over the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff.”

Presenting the report, Tim Besley said that while the coalition was focused on short-term deficit reduction, commitment to a series of longer-term reforms could help to “crowd in” private sector investment and deliver a growth dividend. “We lack a heart of government to drive this through,” he said. “There’s very little at the centre.”

However, business secretary Vince Cable insisted: “The government is implementing an industrial strategy in partnership with business to tackle the very issues the LSE’s Growth Commission report identifies.”

Live discussion: social enterprise and financial services, 18 January 12-1.30pm

Category : Business

Join our experts on Friday 18 January to discuss the alternative solutions social enterprise can provide in the financial sector

It’s hard to imagine a time when the banking sector was more unpopular. Following the 2008 financial crisis, newspapers, politicians and the public alike have been calling for more responsible capitalism and an end to ‘casino banking’.

In an article last August MPs Gareth Thomas and Chris Leslie set out their wish list for greater transparency in the banking sector, including more space for credit unions.

In an earlier article Thomas had called for a network of ‘banks’ owned by their consumers – credit unions and other financial co-operatives and mutuals, or social enterprises and charity banks – to offer alternative finance to those who may be tempted to turn to pay-day lenders.

Meanwhile, the Community Development Finance Association conference in October generated debate over the role of community development finance institutions (CDFIs). Whilst Lib Dem peer Baroness Kramner called on high street banks to ‘step aside’ for CDFIs, business secretary Vince Cable reminded the conference that very few understood what CDFIs actually do and Big Society Capital’s Nick Donoghue reminded us that few CDFis are breaking even.

Following the conference, CDFA director Ben Hughes called for more efforts to scale up CDFIs.

So what role can social enterprise play in financial services? Join us on Friday 18 January to discuss:

• the role of credit unions

• whether CDFIs can go mainstream

• the limits of social enterprise in financial services

Do get in touch if you’d like to be a panellist – email Joe Jervis for more details.

Also, if you’d like to leave a question, please do so in the comments section below, or come back to ask it live – and follow the debate – on Friday 18 January, 12 – 1.30pm GMT.

Remember, to be on the panel and participate you need to register as a member of the Guardian social enterprise network, and log in. Click here to register.

Panel to come

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To join the social enterprise network, click here.

Warning on energy efficiency work

Category : Business

A review of double glazing, insulation and solar panel installation in the UK uncovers cases of high pressure sales and shoddy work.

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