29. April 2010 · Comments Off on The Effect of Brain Drain in Developing Countries · Categories: News & Society · Tags: , ,

The global opportunities have provided many doors for skilled workers and professionals all over the world. The compensation presented by the developed countries is very inviting. Many workers from the third world country are leaving their home to look for greener pastures. No one can really blame them. They would rather sweat it out in a nation that promises reward, than stay where they are, work as much, and earn way too little.

One of the best examples of professionals who are seeking employment abroad is the medical practitioners. Since the nurses are in demand in the different parts of the world, many take up the course, work for about two years, and leave their homeland to wear their landau scrubs somewhere else.

This is not only happening in medical industries. Engineers, pilots, and other professionals are leaving their countries to try their luck in developed countries as well. Although this is good for personal development, this is bad news for the local businesses.

Brain drain is slowly creeping to the veins of local industries. It is difficult because an organization cannot stop a person from leaving the company. He is free to explore other opportunities for the development of his potentials. However, it is very difficult for the country to grow if it continues to lose its talented human resources. When an organization loses talented personnel, there is a chain reaction. First, the organization has to find a replacement. When they find a replacement, they have to train him. The organization cannot expect him to perfect the processes after the training so he will incur certain damages. When he finally gets his act together, the possibility for him to look for better job abroad presents itself.

Although the local businesses want to keep their best assets, they cannot. This is simply because local businesses could not match the compensation offered in the developed countries. An employee who wishes to provide a good future for his family would opt to work overseas where his income is six times greater than what he is earning in his country.

This also has adverse effect on healthcare industries. Some countries are losing their doctors to nursing. There are doctors who give up their profession to take up nursing because of better opportunities abroad. Nowadays, fewer students in the third world countries are pursuing medicine, while doctors slowly shift professions. If this trend continues, the health care industry in developing countries will surely suffer.

It is good to note that many developed countries are opening its doors for talented people from all over the world. However, this has also caused threatening situations in some portion of the world. Many nurses and doctors are leaving their country to wear their landaus scrubs in a more prosperous land. Engineers, pilots and other professionals are doing the same thing. If the government of these developing countries does not do something about it, they will lose their prized assets. Now is the best time to look into the factors that will make their professionals stay.

27. April 2010 · Comments Off on Japanese Folk Songs · Categories: Arts And Entertainment · Tags: , ,

Japanese music has had a large array of influences ranging from China, Korea and even the West. Rich and distinctive in nature it places large emphasis on pentatonic, monophonic and non-harmonic styles of music. Japanese traditional folk singers can be found throughout the country, playing several styles of folk music and classical music. While Japan may have a culturally rich heritage of folk music, it is extremely complicated and intertwined due to its small regional states.

Min’yM or Japanese folk songs are categorized into four main categories: work songs, religious songs, children’s songs known as warabe uta and songs sung when communities gather on different occasions such as festivals, weddings, funerals and others. Japanese folk singers are often accompanied by the three-stringed lute called the Shamisen, the hand drum Tsuzumi, the Taiko drums and the Shinobue also known as a bamboo flute. Today Japan’s Enka singers perform traditional folk songs with modern instruments like electric guitars along with traditional instruments.

Common Min’yM phrases such as bushi, bon uta, ondo, are commonly spoken. They consist of different beats and can commonly be heard at many Obon festivals. From unique melodies to distinct swing characteristics, Japanese folk songs are still an integral part of Japanese children’s curriculum in school. Japanese folk songs are still traditionally passed down from one generation to the next. Common Japanese folk songs which can be taught to children of any culture include the counting song, the moon and the rabbit and the turtle.

Another popular folk song is the flower straw-hat song known as the Hanagasa Ondo played at local community gatherings called Hanagasa Odori. Movements of this typical swing ondo rhythm are typically for women, but men are also encouraged to join in. However dance steps may vary for each sex. Sakura Sakura also known as Sakura elaborates on the season of spring. Sung at many international gatherings as a song representing Japan, “Blooming Cherry Blossoms” has had many renditions but Michio Miyagi’s interpretation is often regarded to be the best of them all. In 1976, Cat Stevens used the melody of Sakura in his live version of ‘Hard Headed Woman’.

Japanese folk songs ideally emerged from villages and small towns and were popularized by people living in cities trying to retain some of their culture. Today many folk songs have been commercialized and redone countless times making them highly different from the original which were once sung in different regions of Japan. Yet these traditions are being sustained and continued largely due to the efforts of the musicians’ guilds and due to various folk traditions throughout the country.

27. April 2010 · Comments Off on Working To Improve Training Productivity · Categories: Management · Tags: , ,

It is a sad fact that not a lot of companies conduct necessary training programs for their employees. And for those few companies that actually do, their training productivity needs to be improved.

Usually, companies conduct some training sessions for their new employees to familiarize the latter with their corporate procedures, policies and culture. This may be done by an older employee who shows a new employee around an office or workplace. Some companies, particularly in highly competitive industries, conduct employee orientation that may take weeks and even months. Within the duration of this training, the trainee is taught the company’s products, processes and competition. Generally, these companies believe that these sessions will eventually lead to an impressive performance from the employees. It is therefore, unfortunate that this viewpoint is not shared by several other companies. According to a report by the American Society for Training and Development, budget for training per employee did not reach $1,500 as of 1996. This reflects the fact that several companies are hesitant to spend even one centavo in training since the results that they initially got from these did not work to their advantage. This is especially true for companies that are experiencing high turnover rates. This is where training metrics come in. With the identification of the essential training metrics, companies would be able to ensure that the training programs they implemented will lead to significant return on investment (ROI) on their part.

The employment and designation of effective Human Resource personnel is a crucial contributor to making training programs productive. These people should be able to design the necessary training programs that employees will need for career development. They should also be able to provide venues for employees to hone their existing skills and develop new ones that will help them qualify for higher positions in the organization. Several studies show that employees become more motivated when they see a lot of training and development opportunities within the workplace. In the same way, high employee satisfaction shows a direct correlation with productivity.

Training needs of organizations are not constant. They will vary because of the difference in size, goals and nature of these companies. A number of factors would have to be considered in assessing the training needs of an organization. Some of these may include the pace of technological and organizational change, the increasing number of related jobs in similar fields, complexity of the working environment and the need to acquire new skills.

HR personnel who are tasked as training managers should be able to prepare training sessions that are conducted either onsite or in training classrooms. They should also prepare all the materials needed to help achieve training objectives. These training specialists should likewise be able to respond to skills development requests from both corporate officials and skilled workers. They should also regularly consult with onsite supervisors in order to identify areas where employees could improve through skills learning and development. Thorough planning and careful implementation of career development programs will surely reflect high training productivity.

21. April 2010 · Comments Off on Liberalisation of Trade an Assessment of Implications for Develoment in Pakistan · Categories: Causes & Organizations · Tags: , ,

Liberalisation Of Trade an assessment of  Implications for Develoment in Pakistan.

*Nadeem Malik, lecturer and Supervisor *Dr Shafiqur Rehman

INTRODUCTION

Uruguay Round (UR) of trade Pakistan became member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a result of the negotiations (1986-94) to elicit gains from implementation of the new regime of multilateral trade liberalisation like other countries, under the ambit of the WTO. However, as is the case for many other developing countries, the WTO implementation process also involves significant challenges for the socio-economic development of Pakistan, due to the overall lack of technical capacity and the prevalent lower level of economic development in such countries.

Recent economic research1 provides compelling evidence that trade liberalisation is associated with increased growth and development, evidenced by the unprecedented global growth since the 1970s. However, the evidence of positive relationship between trade liberalisation and economic growth is not as convincing in the case of a majority of developing countries as it is in the case of developed countries. Pakistan’s economic and trade liberalisation during the 1990s, though initiated largely under the IMF pressure, has not been fruitful in improving its social and economic development; almost all socio-economic indicators were reversed by the end of the 1990s. This particular aspect further exacerbates the WTO’s implementation-related challenges for Pakistan, as its obligations include not only a further reduction of trade barriers, but also to implement significant reforms both in trade procedures and in many regulatory areas.

The implementation of these agreements involves significant financial costs, raising the question of the future productivity of these expenses and opportunity costs. In addition to the financial cost, the social cost of the implementation in the form of rising unemployment is there (although the impact cannot be calculated precisely in various sectors at this initial stage). This is especially so as the implementation of WTO agreements would not only affect trade-related sectors of the economy but would have indirect effects on non-trade sectors of the economy.

Using the results of country’s liberalisation reforms of 1990s as the background, this paper intends to focus upon the possible future impact on socio-economic development in Pakistan, with the implementation of the WTO provisions. For the purpose of analysis, the economy has been divided into three major categories i.e. agriculture, industry and services on the basis of their share in the GDP of Pakistan. However, due to space constraints the study will be restricted to the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. In doing so an attempt will be made to address the following questions:

1. Based on the projections from the existing literature, what current linkages emerge between trade liberalisation and economic development in relation to the WTO’s implementation and what are the consequent gains/losses for developing countries?

2. Do the WTO agreements correctly diagnose the development problems and prescribe appropriate remedies?

3. What are the costs/gains associated in terms of socio-economic development of the country, with the implementation of the WTO agreements?

4. Does the implementation of the WTO agreements imply that Pakistan would be able to increase its share in foreign markets and thereby transfer the stated welfare and developmental benefits/gains to the various sectors within its economy?

Trade Liberalisation and Development Gains

Existing literature review on trade liberalisation, particularly on the aspect of reduction of tariffs and the elimination of non-tariff measures (NTMs) suggests enormous global welfare gains, though the estimates under various models are controversial.2 According to the EU estimates, the annual welfare gains for the world as a whole from multilateral liberalisation in agriculture, industrial products and services alone could range from around $150 billion to $370 billion, with an estimated accrual of $220 billion to developing countries.3 Similarly, World Bank studies have also estimated medium-term welfare gains from liberalising all trade, as between $250 billion to $550 billion; one-third to two-third of these gains would accrue to the developing countries.4 However, these estimates are seen with a great deal of scepticism by many analysts from the developing countries. In the words of Luis Fernando Jaramillo, former Chairman of the Group of 77, ‘70% of the additional income to be generated by the implementation of the Uruguay Round will be appropriated by the industrialised countries, which make up only 20% of the membership of GATT.’5 In other words, the developing countries with more than a two-third majority in the WTO would have only 30% of the additional income to share among themselves, and they were the countries conceding the most during the Uruguay Round negotiations. The former Chairman’s statement also alludes to the way developed countries are implementing WTO agreements in sectors like agriculture, textiles and intellectual property. For instance, in the case of agriculture, production subsidies in developed countries depress international prices thus reducing the export revenues for developing countries. In the post UR period, as a result of trade liberalisation in the agriculture sector, out of the total welfare gains of $122 billion only $11.6 billion will go to the developing countries, which comprise two-third of the WTO members, while $110 billion would go to the developed countries themselves.6 In the case of textiles, according to the same statements, if quotas are fully eliminated the estimated welfare effects on developing countries would range between $13-$22 billions.7 These estimated gains would be accrued only if the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) is implemented in its true spirit by 2004. However, most of these models do not take into account the level of economic development of the developing countries and therefore do not represent true estimates for these countries. Hence, market access has emerged as a major concern for developing countries including Pakistan.

An Overview of Pakistan’s Socio-economic Development Indicators During the 1990s

During the 1990s, Pakistan opted for economic liberalisation, not as a policy generated indigenously but largely as an obligation under the conditionalities imposed by the IMF and the World Bank through their Structural Adjustment Programme.8 Presently, Pakistan’s trade and investment regimes are fairly liberal due to the continuous liberalisation process the country undertook during the 1990s. However, socio-economic development indicators for the decade of 1990s do not show corresponding gains to the liberalisation process.(see Table-I). Until the 1980s, Pakistan’s economic growth rate was fairly good (6% average annual GDP growth rate) although the benefits of that growth were not transferred to the social sectors of the economy.9 However, during the 1990s, following economic liberalisation, not only have the social indicators declined further but economic growth has also been sluggish owing to various macroeconomic factors. Since 1994-95, there have been no major changes in the composition of Pakistan’s GDP and employment; the economy continues to be dominated by services and agriculture. The share of the manufacturing,10 construction, and wholesale and retail trade services in Pakistan’s GDP have declined steadily. The share of agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and forestry (single largest employer) in total employment has followed an upward trend, while that of other sectors has remained stable or declined. Since 1995, the unemployment rate has risen from 5.4% to 7.8% (2002).

The slowdown in economic growth and consequent rise in unemployment together with a relatively high population growth have contributed to a marked increase in the incidence of poverty in Pakistan, particularly in the second half of the 1990s.11 The incidence of poverty, which had decreased to 18% during the 1980s in Pakistan, has reversed and rose upto 28% (1999), per capita income has decreased from $510 in 1995 to $426 in 2001.12 The proportion of the population below the poverty line has risen from 20% a decade ago to 30%, with the majority of the poor (about 70%-80% of poor households) living in rural areas. About two fifths of the population is without access to safe drinking water and more than half has no access to sanitation. Literacy has remained low (compared with elsewhere in the region and low-income countries world-wide) and gender disparities in education are significant. Health indicators, however, have been improving slowly. Development expenditures have decreased. A Social Action Programme (SAP) initiated in 1992, with the financial support of the World Bank and other donors, with a view to expanding and improving the country’s very weak social services (in elementary education, primary health, welfare, and rural water supply and sanitation) and creating employment has also been closed in 2002, due to its lack lustre performance. A comparison of the socio-economic indicators during 1990s with those in 1980s is given in the Table-I.

Table-I: Selected Socio-economic Indicators for Pakistan

Sectors 1980s 1991 1996 2000

GDP Growth rate % 6.5 7.6 6.6 2.1

Exports of Goods and Services % n.a 21.19 14.9 17.5

Imports of Goods and Services % n.a 34.3 25.4 19.1

Unemployment rate % 1.35 5.85 6.12 6.0

Life Expectancy rate % n.a n.a n.a 63

Poverty head count % n.a 22.11 21.8 28.2*

Infant mortality rate/1000 121 85 85 83.3

Development Expenditure

% of GDP 7.3 7.6 3.5 2.2

*. Data available for 1998-99. Source: Economic Survey, 2002

Pakistan’s economic liberalisation of the 1990s was not done under the WTO obligations, but largely as a part of the Structural Adjustment Programme of the IMF. However, the way liberalisation was carried out could not lead to a successful outcome. One of the criticisms of the reforms is that the process of liberalisation was done only partially due to the lack of required institutional infrastructure.13 So far Pakistan’s trade has not been much affected by the WTO agreements as the country has just initiated the process of implementation of these agreements. However, given its current weak development indicators, there are concerns that Pakistan will continue to face serious challenges for its socio-economic development in the future, as it moves towards integrating WTO laws into its economy. It is worth mentioning that the WTO is an ongoing process and many new issues have been included after the Uruguay Round. In the future, developing countries would be facing increased obligations under the new rounds of trade negotiations. This was one of the reasons behind the developing countries’ lack of interest in launching the new round of trade negotiations at Doha and their insistence to see the results from the UR implementation.

In order to evaluate the future impact of the WTO on Pakistan’s socio-economic development the study now focuses upon the following two categories as the broader framework:

a. Implementation of WTO agreements in other countries –Market Access Issues

b. Domestic Implementation of the WTO

1. Market Access Issues

While the WTO has been successful in reducing the overall level of tariffs with increased transparency and greater market access, the majority of the developing countries, with the capacity to increase exports of labour-intensive manufactures, continue to face significant barriers in accessing foreign markets. According to the UNCTAD 2002 Report on Trade and Development, a comparison of the simple MFN tariff rates on manufactured imports, as a group applied in selected sectors, confirms that developed countries apply higher import tariffs to traditional labour-intensive manufactures than to other products. Table-II shows that the tariff rates applied in the developed countries for textiles and clothing and leather are much higher than those of computers and telecom audios, thus indicating a clear discrimination against developing countries exports. This discrimination is further envisaged within the labour intensive products where tariffs are higher for textiles and footwear – two of the main exports of Pakistan. This particular factor does increase future market access challenges for Pakistan’s textile exports, comprising 70% of Pakistan’s total exports.

Table-II Simple MFN Average Tariffs of Selected Economies

Countries Manufactures Textiles Clothing Leather and travel goods Footwear Computers Telecom Audio and Video

Australia 5.4 9.9 20.7 4.7 11.1 0.3 2.6

US 4.0 9.1 11.4 5.0 13.4 0.4 1.6

Japan 2.9 6.5 11.1 10.2 19.2 0.0 0.0

Canada 4.9 10.7 18.4 4.2 16.3 0.2 1.5

EU 4.4 7.9 11.4 3.3 12.4 0.8 4.1

Source: UNCTAD Trade and Development Report, 2002.

Tariff Peaks, tariff escalation, tariff rate quotas and other non-tariff measures (NTMs) allowed under the WTO have become major impediments to market access for developing countries exports.

• Tariff Peaks

Tariff peaks are often imposed on products of developing countries covering mainly labour intensive products: textiles, clothing, leather products, rubber, footwear (Japan) and agriculture products (EU). Clothing and footwear represent more than 60% of the industrial countries’ tariff peaks affecting the exports from developing countries. Due to greater share of labour intensive products in Pakistan’s exports, especially textiles, it is likely that tariff peaks would affect Pakistan’s textile exports in the future.

• Tariff Escalation

Tariff escalation – the increase in import tariff corresponding to their value addition – is one of the major impediments to the exports of developing countries. For Pakistan, it implies that, in case the country shifts the composition of its textile exports from cotton yarn to clothing, or ready made garments, it is going to face higher tariffs on these products in its major markets. So what is the guarantee that Pakistan’s value-added textile exports would be able to capture markets? If these products fail to access the targeted markets it means that Pakistan would continue to be the exporter of primary commodities such as raw cotton, which are often subject to volatile prices. Overall data from the last decade reveals that Pakistan has been able to significantly shift the composition of its exports from primary commodities to finished goods.14 However, as suggested by the data in Table-III, in the case of the textile sector Pakistan has been unable to move to the upper rung of the ladder of value addition. On the other hand, in the case of Bangladesh, India and China there is a great deal of value addition to their textile exports, thereby posing the threat of Pakistan’s loss of market share to these countries, once quotas are removed and Agreement on Textile and Clothing is fully implemented by 2004. Between 1998-2001, Bangladesh and China have achieved 34 % and 36% value addition in their clothing sector respectively, while Pakistan has been able to increase value addition by only 18%.

Table-III Export Quantity of Textile Sector in Pakistan 1990-2001

YEAR Cotton cloth m.sq.m Cotton Thread mkg. Yarn m.kg Raw Cotton

000 mt.

1990 1056.5 0.9 501 282

1996 1257.4 0.4 508 221

1998 1355.2 0.3 421 2

2000-01 1735.8 0.2 513 135

Source: Economic Survey, Government of Pakistan, 2001-02.

Although Pakistan has made a modest progress during the 1998-02 period in its textile sector, a major source of concern is that this increase has only been in volume and not in terms of value due to falling international prices.

• Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs)

Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) allow a certain quantity of imports to enter under low tariffs and above that high tariffs are applied. Under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, the tariffication process i.e. converting non-tariff measures into tariffs was carried out by the developed countries in such a way that it increased the level of actual tariffs on their agriculture imports. Hence it became difficult to trade in certain agriculture products, therefore tariff rate quotas were allowed as a way out for market access for certain countries. So far, 37 countries use TRQs and most of the tariffs are concentrated in few products including vegetables, meat cereals, oilseeds, and dairy products. (Table-IV). Products like fruits and vegetables, tobacco and oil seeds are not only some of the few major exports of Pakistan, but also of potential future interest to Pakistan. Especially the vegetables and fruits where Pakistan can expand its exports, have been subject to tariff rate quotas. The difference between tariffs within quotas and tariffs above quotas is significantly large. For example in OECD countries with TRQs, the TRQ in-quota rates on agriculture products average 36% while out-of-quota rates average 120%.15 Although, the tariffication process has improved transparency in market access conditions, many studies have concluded that the URAA will not result in a significant reduction in agricultural protection due to the conversion of quotas into high tariffs and TRQs.16

Table-IV Tariff Quotas Distribution by Product Category

Product Group Cereals Oil seeds Sugar Dairy Meat Eggs Beverage

Number of TQs 217 124 51 181 247 21 35

Product Group Beverage Fruits and vegetable Tobacco Fibres Coffee

Number of TQs 35 358 13 18 56

Source: www.wto.org.

• Anti-dumping, Countervailing Duties and Safeguard Measures

Trade remedies permitted under the WTO agreements include antidumping measures- against dumping of cheaper imports; countervailing duties – against actionable subsidies; and safeguard measures – to protect against serious injury from import surges. These protective measures can be challenging obstacles to market access in particular products. During 1995-99, over out of a total 1200 antidumping cases, 75% cases were initiated by developed countries and 49% of the latter were targeted against developing countries.17 Thus developing countries are the major object of anti-dumping duties. Pakistan’s textile exports have recently been subject to various anti-dumping investigations, or facing duties, thus restricting market access (see Table-V). Pakistan’s cotton yarn exports also faced the US ‘Transitional Safeguard Action’ for three years (1997-2001), irrespective of the fact that the action was not consistent with the WTO agreement on Textile and Clothing. However, by the time the decision was made by the WTO Appellate Body, the time for safeguard action had lapsed, but it caused a serious financial damage to Pakistan’s cotton exports.18

Table-V Anti-Dumping Cases/ Duties Facing Pakistan

Product Country Initiating Year

Bed Linen South Africa 1999

Cotton Yarn Japan 2000

Cotton Shop Towel US 2000

Cotton Bed Linen, Cotton Fabrics, Unbleached Cotton Fabrics EU 2000

Cotton Shop Towels US 1999

Source: Trade Policy Review of Pakistan 2001, WT/TPR/95 at www.wto.org

• Product and Environmental Standards

Product standards under Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS) are also a source of concern for developing countries, which lack the capacity to meet the increasingly complex health and technical standards.19 TBT relates to all products and measures, while the SPS covers sanitary standards for food and phytosanitary standards for animals and plants. In maintaining these standards, both fixed (product redesign and administrative system) and variable costs (of maintaining quality control, testing certification and conformity assessments) are involved. In addition, revision to standards can have important implications for exporters. For example, World Bank estimates that due to the EU’s new standards for level of aflatoxin can reduce African exports of cereal dried fruits and nuts to Europe by 64%.20 Pakistan, along with Malaysia, India and Thailand lost the famous ‘Shrimp Turtle case’ when the WTO Panel upheld the US prohibition of shrimp turtle imports from these countries on the basis of environmental standards, as conforming to the WTO laws.21 On the other hand, the US itself is not ready to conform to the global environmental standards and has pulled out of Kyoto Protocol. In future there is the likelihood of increased number of cases involving standards. By the end of 2000, out of 27 disputes considered by the WTO with reference to TBT and SPS, only 6 were brought by the developing countries and no low-income countries other than India brought such cases to the WTO. Hence, for Pakistan, it will remain a distant idea to benefit from these standards, unless the required technical and scientific expertise is developed within the country.

Overall, the above-mentioned tariff and non-tariff measures being used as tools of market access denial to the developing countries’ exports indicate that realising the stated benefits and opportunities under the WTO is a challenging task. A careful analysis of the foreign markets and trade policies, especially of export destination countries, as well as the WTO rules and regulation is urgently required. Market access for developing countries was on the agenda of the Doha Round negotiations. It is the right time for the developing countries to pursue it collectively. Environmental and product standards, while restricting market access for the exports of the developing countries, if adhered to, however, are also a source of penetrating developed countries’ markets. While legal protections and safeguards are allowed under the ambit of the WTO, Pakistan has promulgated the contingent regulations such as anti-dumping rules, countervailing rules and safeguard regulations. However, Pakistan requires technical and scientific expertise to use and benefit from those measures and protect its own domestic market.

2. Domestic Implementation Issues

Domestically, the implementation of the WTO agreements goes far beyond trade-related policy, especially when it comes to the supporting legal and regulatory environment. This is where the cost of implementation matters. Pakistan’s trade and investment regime is fairly liberal. The average import tariffs declined to just over 20% in 2001-02 which is less than half its levels during the mid-1990s.22 Under its 1997 foreign investment policy, Pakistan has fully opened most sectors of its economy to foreign direct investment (FDI), thus allowing 100% foreign ownership except for certain activities that are subject to specific conditions. From November 1997, Pakistan has provided national treatment to foreign companies under its WTO obligations with respect to incentives such as duty and tax exemptions and other import concessions.23 Developing countries incur substantial problems from reducing their trade barriers. According to the World Developing Indicators 2001, a comparison of developed and developing countries for 1990s, show that in many developing countries, tariff revenue accounts for 10-20% of government revenue, and in some cases considerably more. In the case of India and Pakistan, tariffs make 21% and 17% of total revenues, respectively, whereas in developed countries this share ranges between 0-1%.24 If tariffs are reduced or eliminated in developing countries, they are bound to lose a reasonable share of their revenues.

A liberal trade regime is considered as one that removes domestic market distortions through increased competition and reallocation of resources. However, this whole process involves structural adjustments in the economy, in themselves having socio-economic implications, which has become a major concern of the developing country members of the WTO. Once tariffs are reduced under the WTO regime, it will lead to the inflow of cheaper products. Products in countries like Pakistan, with higher costs of unit production in agriculture and industrial sectors will not be able to compete with the cheaper imports. This effect would be further aggravated with the expected increase in water, electricity and gas prices committed to with the IMF under the present Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF) reforms.25 The price incompetitiveness would, in the near term, inevitably lead to the closure of the industries in manufacturing sector, while agriculture producers will not be able to meet the cost of production for the same reason.

In fact, for countries like Pakistan, there is a major concern of becoming dumping grounds for over-produced, subsidized agriculture produce of the developed countries. These market distorting tactics can be a big blow to the agriculture sector in Pakistan, which accounts for 25% of the GDP and 47% of total employment, in addition to being the major source of raw material for its manufacturing sector as well. Table-VI shows the agriculture sector’s contributions to the GDP and its share in total employment. The ultimate outcome will be an overall lowering in the levels of production, and displacement of labour force through unemployment in the affected sectors of the economy. Given the large share of the household expenditures dedicated to food, even small rises in agricultural unemployment or prices can have major destabilizing effects in the overall socio-economic regime.

Table-VI Pakistan: Sect oral Share (%age)

in GDP, Exports and Employment

Sectors 1991 1996 2000

-Agriculture share in GDP 25.8 25.7 24.1

Employment 47.4 46.8 47.3

-Manufacturing share in GDP 17.4 16.6 15.7

Employment 12.3 10.1 11.2

-Services share in GDP 48.7 49.5 50.9

Employment 42.7 42.6

Source: Economic Survey, 2001-02; WTT/TPR/95.

In Pakistan, unemployment has been a rising phenomenon during the 1990s (7.8% in 2002), but there is no major evidence to show that this has been a direct consequence of the economic liberalisation programme of 1990s. However, according to the Human Development Report in South Asia 2001, the liberalisation programme was not even aimed at employment generation.26 Economic liberalisation without catering for employment opportunities for displaced labour, is a factor that itself explains rising levels of unemployment during 1990s. It was generally expected that higher growth would generate employment expansion and poverty reduction, which could not yield the desired outcome, thereby increasing the incidence of poverty, during the 1990s.

Generally, economic models assume this process as a short-term phenomenon and it is expected that eventually these resources will be re-employed in some other sector of the economy thus bringing overall gains for the economy. However, actually, displaced workers may not necessarily be re-employed for a significant period of time. This situation is further aggravated in the case of Pakistan where the development expenditure is very low and social safety nets are almost negligible (see Table-1). Although under the PRGF Programme, the Musharraf government initiated the Khushhal Pakistan Programme and National Food Support Programme however, these efforts are at a very preliminary stage, and even if implemented properly will take some time to deliver the desired results.27

Economic liberalisation attaches great importance to the role of foreign direct investment, especially in generating new employment opportunities thereby acting as a factor canceling the unemployment effect. In the case of Pakistan, foreign direct investment has also been on the decline since 1995-96, despite liberal economic policies pursued by various governments.28 The level of FDI is specifically very low in the agriculture sector as compared to other sectors of the economy and is concentrated mostly in oil and gas and power sectors.29 It is also a reflection of the continued biased policies of various governments in favor of the manufacturing sector, although, the manufacturing sector especially large-scale manufacturing, has also been the victim of the FDI drainage due to overall reduction in FDI into Pakistan, during the mid-90s.30

There are many factors contributing towards the creation of an environment that is not conducive for attracting higher FDI in Pakistan. These factors include: weak property rights, lack of continuity in policies and lack of credibility of various governments in honoring international agreements and, above all, weak politico-security situation within the country and in its relations with India. If all other irritants are removed the security factor remains the most hindering factor in attracting FDI into Pakistan. In that case, amongst the regional countries, China would benefit the most and with its recent reform programme it will continue to be the most attractive place for FDI.

The implementation of the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) brings many challenges for various sectors of the economy and consequently socio-economic development of the country. In the case of Pakistan, so far no study has been conducted to estimate the cost of implementation of an IPR regime in Pakistan i.e. the establishment of new institutions, administrative and enforcement costs. Nonetheless, World Bank estimates for selected developing countries and overall estimates for developing countries suggest exuberant costs attached to the establishment of an IPR regime.31 However, views from the official sources in Pakistan indicate that the country already had an IPR regime and three ministries were handling the issue, namely Commerce, Education and Industries, which is in the process of being merged into one authority, called the Pakistan Intellectual Property Rights Authority (PIPRA).32 So, if these views are taken into account, initial fixed costs on institutional arrangements would not be much of expenditure in Pakistan. However, estimating the variable costs related to additional workforce, enforcement of IPR laws, training of police and custom officers would be little premature, as the country has just started the process of implementation of IPR laws. Also, the costs are wide-ranging and scattered in various sectors of the economy. Hence, it is not possible to see the exact impact of IPR regime related cost in connection with the concerns that it would squeeze development funds of the country.

In addition to institutional costs, there are socio-economic costs attached to an IPR regime. The creation of a Patent regime in Pakistan implies that foreign pharmaceutical multinationals can sell their patented products in the country at a desired price, which is going to increase the cost of those medicines in the country, or else the local firms have to get patents for those products and pay royalty to big multinationals. According to the World Bank, this will lead to the transfer of billions of dollars from developing countries to high income-countries in the form of royalties and licensing fees.33 It further indicates that the cost of TRIPs to developing countries is likely to be comparable to any gains they might receive from trade liberalisation.34 In addition, to avoid uncompetitive practices on the part of multinationals, the enforcement of a strict competition regime is a necessary step. In fact, without a sound and strong competition policy, the establishment of an IPR regime is meaningless. Pakistan has been widely blamed by the US and the EU for piracy and weak copyright implementation in the field of entertainment and computers, thereby incurring losses to copyright industries in these countries.35 With the enforcement of IPR rules, the prices for computers will certainly shoot up many times thus extremely restricting the fast-spreading use of computers and internet in Pakistan. With the inclusion of electronic data within the scope of TRIPs, the spill-over effects of the internet in the field of education – a crucial aspect in its human development- will also wane. The purchasing power in Pakistan is too little to pay for highly expensive books, or cover the internet charges.

The patent regime has severe implications for farmers in the developing countries. Under the patent laws, new plant varieties are protected and farmers in the developing countries like Pakistan, which traditionally used to reuse the produce for sowing purposes will be unable to do that. In fact, under the new technologies, the seed if reused, will not give the same quantity of crop, hence putting financial strain on the poor farmers who lack access to financial credit. This very factor implies the development of an indigenous R&D in Pakistan, and further allocation of funds in the national budget for this purpose.

During the Uruguay Round, Pakistan and other developing countries reluctantly adhered to the TRIPs agreement, with the lures of transfer of technology and technical assistance from the developed countries. While both these commitments were non-binding, there is no such international framework ensuring the transfer of technology or technical assistance to the developing countries. In fact TRIPs has strengthened the protection to the suppliers of technology. So, do the gains from TRIPs outweigh the costs in developing countries? Although, Pakistan is benefiting from the technical assistance and capacity-building programmes of the WTO and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), but a very little and insufficient technical assistance is actually available.

Strong IPRs are considered as one of the incentives for foreign direct investment and technology transfer. But stronger IPRs in developing countries may not necessarily decrease the technology gap between North and South. Once a product is patented and multinationals are getting royalties they might not be interested in investing overseas under uncertain political and security environment for example, as in Pakistan.36

Conclusion

The importance and benefits of economic liberalisation cannot be contested for the developing economies like Pakistan. However, focusing exclusively on one area while neglecting other aspects of human and social development can be very dangerous. As research has proven that it is social and human development that makes a strong basis for sustainable economic development. This is where Pakistan needs to pay attention. Trade liberalisation under the WTO regime is Pakistan’s obligation, but at the same time it should be complied to in a manner with least implications for the social sectors of the economy. For the Doha Round of trade negotiations, it is suggested that any future binding commitments by the Government of Pakistan must be made in consultation with the relevant industry and business sectors. Pakistan should not liberalise more than what is required. Any move towards liberalisation should be carefully measured in terms of its prospective costs and benefits.

References

*.

*. Mr Nadeem Malik, lecturer, Commerce department, University of Balochistan Quetta, Pakistan.

Supervisor Dr Shafiqur Rehman, Registrar, University of Balochistan Quetta

Pakistan.

1. ‘World Development Report’, Washington D.C.: World Bank, various issues, ‘Trade and Development Report 2002’, New York: UN Publications, 1996-2001.

2. Bernard Hoekman, ed. ‘A Hand Book on Development Trade and WTO’, Washington DC: World Bank, at www.worldbank.org. pp.1-10.

3. www.eudelbangladesh.ord/trade.htm

4. ‘Market Access for Developing Countries’ Exports’, IMF and World Bank Staff Paper, April 27, 2001, at www.worldbank.org p.45.

5. ‘Trading into Future: An Introduction to the WTO’ at www.wto.org

6. ‘Market Access for Developing Countries’ Exports’, p.46. op.cit.

7. Ibid., p. 47.

8. Shahid Kardar, Political Economy of Pakistan, Lahore: Progressive Publishers, 1997.

9. Dr. Ishrat Hussain, ‘Pakistan: Economy of An Elitist State’, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999; William Easterly, ‘The Political Economy of Growth Without Development: A Case Study of Pakistan’, Development Research Group, World Bank, March 2001, at www.worldbank.org

10. Although the decline of the manufacturing sector was, inter alia, due to the adverse impact of economic sanctions and resultant foreign currency crisis that led to drastic reduction in domestic and foreign investment and a contraction of imports. Mark Weisbort and Dean Baker,‘Relative Impact of Trade on Developing Countries’, Centre for Economic Policy Research Briefing Paper, Washington D.C, at www.cepr.net

11. ‘Economic Survey’, 2000-01, Government of Pakistan.

12. ‘Pakistan Development Policy Review: A New Dawn’, World Bank Report no.23916-PAK, April 3, 2002.

13. Ibid.

14. ‘Economic Survey’p.119, Op.cit.

15. UNCTAD Report on, ’Trade and Development, 2002,Now York: UN Publications, p.60.

16. OECD Report on ‘Market Access for Developing Countries, 2001, at www.oecd.org

17. ‘ Market Access for Developing Countries’ Exports’, World Bank IMF Joint Staff Paper, April 27, 2001, at www.worldbank.org

18. Appellate Body Decision on’ US Transitional Safeguard Measures on Combed Cotton Yarn from Pakistan’, WTO Document no. WT/DS192/7, 7 November 2001, at www.wto.org

19. Under SPS measures, imports can be prohibited to protect animal and plant health, on the basis of scientific evidence.

20. ‘Market Access for Developing Countries’ Exports’, World Bank IMF Joint Staff Paper, April 27, 2001, at www.worldbank.org

21. ‘WTO Appellate Body Decision’, Document No. WT/DS58/AB/RW, 22 October 2001.

22. ‘Pakistan Development Policy Review’, op.cit.

23. ‘Trade Policy Review Pakistan 2001’, WTO Document no. WT/TPR/S/95, p. 22, at www.wto.org

24. ‘World Development Indicators’, World Bank, 2001.

25. Under the PRGF reform programme the Government of Pakistan is bound to increase the electricity prices twice a year, Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) 2001, at www.finance.gov.pk

26. ‘Globalization and Human Development’, Human Development Report on South Asia Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre, , 2001, pp.74-78.

27. ‘Economic Survey 2001-02’, Finance Division, Government of Pakistan, pp.55-57.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid., p.41.

30. ‘Pakistan Development Policy Review’, op.cit.

31. ‘A Hand Book on Development Trade and WTO’, op.cit., pp.1-10.

32. Personal discussion on various WTO agreements with officials in the WTO Wing, Ministry of Commerce, Islamabad.

33. ‘World Economic Prospects 2000’, Washington DC: World Bank, p.94.

34. Jayashree Watal, ‘Implementing the TRIPS Agreement’ in A Hand Book on Development Trade and WTO, World Bank publication, 2002, p. 366-370.

35. The EU and US review the copyright enforcement of their trading partners and Pakistan is on the special watch list of the US under special 301 Act.

36. Ibid. p.366.

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14. April 2010 · Comments Off on Growing Up on Robben Island – My Childhood Memories · Categories: Travel And Leisure · Tags: , ,

People often ask me why I keep my site going after so many years. I have had touching emails from many people around the world who were fascinated to discover that life on “the island” was for me quite normal. My parents married there in the Anglican church in the main street, now beautifully renovated, and I spent the first 5 years of my life there.

The island was first an army base, then a naval base, and eventually the marines took over before handing over to the prisons department. I have fond memories of walking the island with my nanny every day – she was a Xhosa woman and when we visited the now famous quarry where political prisoners eventually spent their days picking at rocks, we were greeted by the then hard laborers who could not resist a chat with a black women and a child. Nanny and I walked for miles each day – a visit to the farm, the lighthouse and nothing would stop us from looking across the bay at the famous Table Mountain.

I remember, so well, huge tortoises that swam back to the mainland. Often people have emailed me to say I must have remembered incorrectly – were they not turtles? Because I left when I was only five, I wondered whether, perhaps, I was wrong. I phoned a professor of zoology from University of Cape Town, and was delighted to discover that I had been right. The Mountain Leopard tortoise indeed was the culprit, and fishermen often loaded them on board their boats and brought them back to the island. They are the only tortoises in the world that have lungs large enough to swim. I remember my father riding one – he got off before it launched itself into the bay, of course.

Nelson Mandela is on record as describing Robben Island as a special place. And indeed it was; but for me for very different reasons, although I imagine that he has very fond memories, as well as the painful ones. He befriended prison warders and was a favourite among them, and his patience and lack of revenge resulted in a new democratic nation we now live in.

You can read more by visiting websites which also has many links to places to visit and see in and around Cape Town. If you do have the privilege of visiting the island, take a thought when looking across the bay at Table Mountain itself – its chain and floral kingdom is one of only seven in the world, with more species of flowers than the entire British Isles!

If you happen to end up in Cape Town be sure to stay a while. Rated as one of the three most beautiful cities in the world, I can certainly say that having been to handsome Vancouver and stayed in stunning Sydney, Cape Town is still the most beautiful. Few destinations in the world offer you the chance to experience two oceans; in October Southern Right whales return to fill our bays with their offspring and frolicking antics. We have the most famous botanical garden in the world, Kirstenbosch – an absolute must to come into contact with the world’s most diverse floral kingdom.

On your drive down to Cape Point, most tour buses stop in Simonstown – small, quaint and bristling with character, it was constructed almost entirely by the British navy and is a reminder of a typical English town. To the amazement of the locals, tens of thousands each year come from every country in the world to visit the smelly and noisy penguins that moved into the otherwise very private area called Boulders. The various drives around the peninsula are must-do outings in themselves, and there are no less than three large bays: Table Bay (cold water), False Bay (warm but still not Indian Ocean water) and Hout Bay with its fishing village and yacht basin.

We’re waiting for you. And so is Robben Island.
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11. April 2010 · Comments Off on Turtle Trading – the Turtles Made Millions with no Trading Experience, and You Can Too! · Categories: Investing · Tags: , ,

In two weeks a group of 14 people from different walks of life were taught to trade, and these “turtles” as they were nicknamed became world famous.

There’s much to learn from the turtle traders – lets look at how they did it and how we can copy them.

The turtle trading experiment proved ANYONE can become a successful trader and everything about trading can be learned.

Traders with no experience learned the tools to make millions in just two weeks, and they came from a variety of diverse jobs and backgrounds, including:

· An actor

· A security guard

· Two professional card players

· A bookkeeper

· A boy fresh out of school

· A woman who used to be an exchange clerk

They then went on to make annualized 70% returns!

Is Trading a Learned Skill, or is it all Down to Natural Ability?
In 1984, Richard Dennis taught a Trend Following trading methodology to a group of students, to prove anyone, no matter what their profession, could be taught to trade successfully in financial markets.

Dennis was settling a debate with his friend and business partner William Eckhardt over whether trading skills could be taught to anyone.

The Importance of Following Trading Rules

Dennis believed that trading abilities, given in a set of rules, could be taught to others. Eckhardt believed trading abilities had more to do with innate instincts.

The Experiment

The group of 14 traders he taught (the turtles) earned an average annual compound rate of return of 80% far in excess of most professional asset fund managers, proving Dennis right.

What the Experiment Proved

The experiment with the “turtles” showed that anyone could indeed be taught to trade – all they had to do was learn, and follow a set of rules.

This is where we can all learn something from the turtle trading experiment.

What you can learn from the Turtles

Trading actually looks quite simple, yet few succeed.

The reason most traders fail is simply they cannot get the right mindset. The turtle trading experiment taught them the RIGHT MINDSET to succeed.

The system they were taught was essentially simple, so simple in fact, that anyone with the will to learn it could.

Dennis however realized that the problem was that most people can trade successfully, but don’t because they can’t trade with discipline. Their emotions get the better of them and they end up losing.

Why is Discipline so Important?

Quite simply, without the discipline to follow a method, you don’t have a method in the first place, and are doomed to failure – money management goes out the window and losses follow.

Dennis taught them to have confidence in the system they were trading, and follow it rigidly to achieve success.

A Simple System made the Turtles Money

Dennis also knew that complicated trading methods are NOT likely to be more successful than simple ones – in fact, a simple trading system is more likely to be successful, as it will be more robust in the face of changing market conditions.

Not only was the system simple, it was easy to understand – meaning the turtles had confidence in it and could apply it with rigid discipline.

So, What can we Learn from the Turtles?

Well, we know that anyone can learn to trade quite quickly. We also know that simple systems applied with discipline and strict money management will work over time.

The turtle story is inspiring, as we know that anyone with the mindset to succeed can, and it doesn’t matter what we do for a living – trading success is within reach of all of us.

09. April 2010 · Comments Off on I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas · Categories: Home And Family · Tags: , ,

It’s exactly one week until Christmas, and I am not ready. My heart is prepared. Hands are not. There are still gifts to purchase, wrap and ship. Pies to bake and deliver. Cookies to package for the neighbors.

My kitchen table is serving triple duty as a storage facility, wrapping island and veritable nerve center for the preparations still un-done. Tissue paper and ribbons and tape and scissors and markers and boxes stand ready to be put into service. But long days at the office and after-work board meetings and parenting responsibilities keep me from moving at the pace to which I had, for years, become accustomed.

These last three years have practically forced me to adopt a simpler approach to the Holidays. I have weeded out the frivolous from the essentials; trimmed my gift list; abandoned some earlier-treasured rituals; and adopted a “green” approach to help me accomplish all of the above while simultaneously helping preserve our planet.

First of all, if you are not keeping long lists each Christmas of what you purchased and for whom, and what you received and from whom, start doing this now. My own lists go back almost twenty years and have “green-ed” me up by saving our family’s three most precious resources: time, energy and money. Not having to re-invent the wheel every year saves one tons of pre-Christmas anxiety, too. I group families together as I do friends and business colleagues. If you are visually sensitive as I am, you will start “seeing” your Christmas list in your head, and every time you are out and about, you can start thinking of what you should buy for those you most love all year long. That said:

• Hand craft, bake or cook as many gifts as possible. They’ll be more appreciated by the recipient, save you money and prevent yet more stuff from accumulating in areas where that’s the last thing needed. Stick to your favorites and make them again and again. I make my favorite Kentucky pecan pie every Christmas for a half-dozen folks on my list and pick up stoneware pie plates whenever and wherever I can find them throughout the year.

• Buy antiques and gently-used stuff. It moves recycling one step further, the gifts will inevitably be more unique than those bought from department stores or catalogs, and the recipient will value the time you spent shopping for something extra-special for him or her. I picked up some gorgeous antique jewelry on my last trip into New York for a few people on my list; I know I’ll never see such wonderful stuff again. One of my best friends got something from a local antique store when I found them early this year. Know what your friends collect and keep your eyes open for it throughout the year. (Roosters anyone?)

• Make your lists concise and build around themes. You’ll be able to conserve shopping trips, visiting only a few stores rather then a dozen or more. We all need to do our part in conserving gas, and this one will add a few good measures to that end. I stock up at Trader Joe’s on all sorts of organic soups, chocolates, teas and coffees and give out healthier goodie bags than what I could purchase elsewhere, all at decent prices.

• Don’t go nuts on wrapping. Use brown paper bags and boxes wherever possible. If you get a box filled with Styrofoam peanuts, re-use it on another gift rather than dumping it; this stuff will last for years. Consider plain newspaper or popcorn for fillers instead. Go simple on gift tags and ribbons, too. Recycle old favorites and come up with your own style that is timeless yet festive. For years, I used manila hang tags tied to old-fashioned twine; now I use white round metal-lined mailing tags which already come with a ring, easily slipped through a silk ribbon and large enough to write a tiny inscription.

• Consider re-stringing your tree with LED lights. More expensive in the short run, they’ll outlast the old ones in the long run. And of course, they’re better for Mother Earth.

• The true “greenies” will tell you to buy a real tree, or better yet, to dig one up and re-plant it after Christmas has passed. We have allergies to the real thing, so we have an artificial tree. Nothing wrong with that either as it’s used again and again and again.

• Go through all of those paper shopping bags you have laying around (I did that this weekend and was aghast at how many we’d collected; I spent a good half-hour sorting and re-folding). I was also pleasantly surprised at how many of them could be used a second or even third time as most bags these days are quite beautiful. If you keep this kind of stuff, make sure they’re handy and in good shape so that you can do your part in recycling them for further good.

• Use recycled paper for your annual Christmas letter, if you still send one. Recycled cards, too. Our family’s list gets longer each year, and we’re happy about having an ever-expanding circle. I shop for cards the day after Christmas in order to buy them at half-price for the next year. Again, it’s all about planning.

• Lastly, consider throwing one big party where you allow Holiday cheer to pervade your home, family and friends. Spreading joy to those in your circles in this way allows you to touch dozens of folks at one time and keeps efficiencies of time, energy and money at bay. Splurge for one morning or one night knowing that you’ve filled lots of people with the Christmas spirit.

From my heart to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Carolina

09. April 2010 · Comments Off on Solar Power For The Home – Getting Started · Categories: Environment · Tags: , ,

Solar power is a green energy source available in almost every corner of the globe and of course has been literally available since the dawn of time. Solar energy is produced by using photovoltaic (PV) cells that capture the energy of the sun and then convert it into electricity. The basic unit of the system is the solar cell and these cells are connected together into modules. Solar power is an increasingly attractive energy technology because photovoltaic modules produce no pollution, have an expected life of twenty years and require little in the way of maintenance. As such, solar power is increasingly being looked to as a long term solution for the world’s current global warming problems.

One of the more popular solar power applications is the use of solar energy to power the home. Home solar power systems are a great way of using an alternative yet abundant energy source. They provide clean, renewable energy and require little maintenance after the initial installation. Home solar power systems convert sunlight into electricity through the use of solar panels. For an average home about ten watts per square foot of electrical energy will be gathered per day, but this can vary depending on the size of the solar panels that are being used. On days with a more intense sun, more electricity will be produced.

Electricity generated by your solar panel array passes through an inverter to convert it from DC to AC electricity. Electrical wiring connects the solar panels to the controller, then to the meter box and ultimately to the electricity company via the existing electricity grid. Little additional equipment is needed other than the panels, controller and inverters, wiring, and the roof mounting system. Electricity produced by the solar cells that is not used immediately in the home can be returned to the power grid. When this happens the electricity meter literally spins backwards as energy is being passed back to the grid.

In the case of standalone residential power systems (i.e. where there is no integration with the existing electricity grid) it is important to also have a battery (or batteries) and an associated battery charger. A battery charger enables you to charge a battery (or batteries) in order to store electricity. Prior to the advent of solar battery chargers, solar power was only useful during daylight hours. You need the ability to not only utilize solar energy, but also store any excess electricity for use during the night. A solar power battery charger can be bought from a wide range of retail outlets and online stores, whom specialize in solar energy supplies.

These types of self sustaining solar power systems for the home are increasing in popularity worldwide as energy prices start to soar and environmental concerns take on a sharper priority.

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02. April 2010 · Comments Off on Black Mold and Mildew – How Do They Remain Active Round the Year · Categories: Home Improvement · Tags: , ,

They do not have any specific breeding season. They grow whenever they get the right condition, and spore generation begins as soon as they colonize. Organic substance, humidity and warm atmosphere create the perfect incubator for molds to amplify rapidly.

The organic substance is used as the base on which they grow and as the source of nutrition for molds and mildews as well. Black mold and mildews collect their food from dead organic matters by decomposing them into simpler substances. Water is indispensable for mold growth; that is why all mold growths are found in humid environment.

The third condition is temperature. Molds prefer living in warm places. Mold growth increase many folds in summer. However, they do not die in low temperature, nor do they stop spore formation. The growth rate falls when it is cold.

There are people who believe that molds enter into a dormant state during winter because of the cold atmosphere. Some also believe that molds die during winter season. If you hold similar opinion, reconsider your thoughts and do some research on black mold, mildews and mold cleaning products.

Manifestation of mildews, molds and toxic black molds may seem to be down during winter, but they are still there. The situation may become worse during winter even. The problem is instantiated by poor air circulation inside houses during winter time.

It is a common trend to keep doors and windows closed during winter to keep rooms hot. Hence, the chances of mold spore penetration from out to inside the house are less.

But then what if molds are already in? As home owners try to keep the indoor environment warm, existing molds will not die, they will continue to grow. And due to poor air circulation spore count will increase many folds inside the house which may lead to serious mold allergies and health problems for family members, kids and pets.

If someone in the family gets exposed to black mold and catches allergy, being winter season, people often misinterpret the symptoms. Since chances of catching cold are high during winter people fail to identify molds as the reason of the allergies. As a result mold growth goes unnoticed and they continue to amplify.

If the place of contamination is not much visible the situation becomes worse later on. They grow silently without manifesting any visible signal like spots or odor. Places like the other side or the non-visible surface of sidewalls, under the flooring or above the ceiling tiles are very much prone to such silent mold attack.

When the symptoms of black mold and mildew contamination become prominent, it is already late. You will be shocked to see mold growth all over the house and it will be a tough job to kill mold completely from the premise.

Cleaning mold from places like ceiling tiles, flooring, side walls etc. is quite difficult because it is tough to get access to those places. Mold cleaning products cannot reach to such places. Kill mold spray can be handy for removing molds from such tough places.

Natural mold cleaners can effectively remove molds and prevent them from coming back. Added to that, they have no side effects; hence they are safe from home dwellers as well. It is always recommended to consult expert mold cleaning professionals and inspectors to make your home free from black molds and mildews.

01. April 2010 · Comments Off on 5 Contemporary Novels You Shouldn’t Miss · Categories: Book Reviews · Tags: , ,

These five novels are all unique and riveting, but they share one factor in common-they are all touching. Although they are all in turn written in hard, unforgiving prose, they still manage to stir emotions constantly within the reader. These five novels contain real characters with flaws, as opposed to other novels with ideal protagonists, who question common beliefs and don’t always stay true to themselves. Each of these novels is sure to make some change, however small, in every reader who first opens them.

The Kite Runner:
Afghanistan of old was a place of culture, heritage, religion, and traditions. Those were the days of kite flying, markets, and cinemas. But when political turmoil takes over the nation, days of color fade to violence, murder, and oppression. The Kite Runner, by Khalid Hosseini, is a riveting, poignant, and haunting tale which portrays the torn soul of a privileged man who managed to escape the horrendous, war-torn state of his old home in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the memories of betrayal and sin which he left there. This epic, unforgettable novel tells a story of loyalty, betrayal, redemption, and brotherhood, which has something to offer to its every reader.

Nineteen Minutes
The quiet town of Sterling, New Hampshire is known for its serenity, lack of criminal action, and stellar school district. These characteristics make it the choice environment for families with school-age children. However, this quiet contentment is rudely shattered by a horrific school shooting. Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult, is a touching novel about love, misunderstanding, familial bonds, and revenge. In a series of flashbacks and changes in point of view, this moving novel questions the true responsibility of such ghastly events, the corrupting effects of bullying, and the right to judge.

The Book Thief
The Holocaust was a morbid, dismal, and frightening time for every group of people, be it minority or majority. For Death, it was an extremely busy time, as people were being slaughtered, starved, and sickened left and right. The Book Thief is an intriguing novel set during the Holocaust, written in the unique and morose point of view of Death. Death is particularly interested in a young girl named Liesel, who is adopted into a German family after her mother and brother pass away from disease. The Book Thief is a riveting and moving novel about silent strength, principle, and tragedy. Humorous and touching, this novel will not be easily forgotten.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
“Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.” Such was the general philosophy of the submissive, oppressed women of Afghanistan. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khalid Hosseini, follows the lives of the two wives of a tyrannical, abusive man in Kabul, Afghanistan. As the state of the country falls deeper and deeper into political unrest, violence, and civil war, the women of the country are hit the hardest. This novel is a heartrending tale of oppression, sorority, and sacrifice, which begins to touch the heart and soul within the first fifty pages.

My Sister’s Keeper
A parent’s worst fear is to lose their child, be it from an accident, an incident, or a sickness, such as cancer, and they will do anything in their willpower to save their beloved. But siblings, on the other hand, may see a different light in the matter. “Normal, in our house, is like a blanket too short for a bed–sometimes it covers you just fine, and other times it leaves you cold and shaking; and worst of all, you never know which of the two it’s going to be.”  My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, is a beautiful novel which traces the life of the Fitzgerald family, which revolves around a Leukemic daughter and her genetic match sister. It questions the importance of the quality of life as opposed to longevity, and how much should be sacrificed in order to receive the ultimate goal. This novel is a tear-jerking irony of family, sisterhood, and surrender.