Tag Archives: Mexico

Hurricane Patricia – Mexico prepares with massive evacuation

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Hurricane PatriciaMexico : US National Hurricane Center issued alarming warnings and triggered off massive evacuations and hectic vacate plans, stating, ‘Potentially catastrophic Hurricane Patricia should make landfall in Mexico in the next several hours.’ The centre added that it has been projected as the strongest storm that had recorded in the eastern Pacific or the Atlantic. Data showed that the formation of Hurricane Patricia has already produced the third lowest barometer reading ever recorded – a pressure of 880 millibars at the centre of the storm.

The strongest hurricane ever recorded is bearing down on Mexico’s Pacific coast, threatening a potentially catastrophic landfall. Tourists have begun to queue for buses in Puerto Vallarta after evacuation orders have forced them to leave their hotels and move to safer shelter areas.

Mexican authorities have begun evacuating residents ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Patricia. The storm stands comparable to Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 6,300 people in the Philippines in 2013, according to information released by World Meteorological Organization. A state of emergency has been declared in three states in Patricia’s path. The category five hurricane is expected to make landfall in the next few hours, with winds of 305km/h (190mph).

Some 400,000 people live in vulnerable areas. The hurricane, which gets preceded by torrential rains, could trigger flash floods and mudslides, and a situation of potential flooding from the sea and destructive waves is not ruled out. The hurricane’s winds of such intensity have often found to be strong enough to get a plane in the air and keep it flying, and shaking trees and fragile dwelling units out of its roots in the ground.

According to forecasters, Patricia will make landfall in the western state of Jalisco, home to the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, which could lie directly in its path. Police patrols in the resort urged people to leave the vicinity and move to safer areas at least three blocks inland, while loudspeakers ordered hotel residents to evacuate.The town’s airport, along with two others in the path of the storm, were closed. Educational institutions like Schools have been closed in Jalisco, Colima and Guerrero states.People are being directed to moving into less vulnerable and safer shelter areas, with proper guidance from administration.

Mistaken Identity – Egyptian forces kill Mexican tourists

Newsroom24x7 Desk

egyptEgypt : Security forces in Egypt mistakenly killed 12 people, including Mexican tourists while giving shape to an anti-terror operation in the Wahat area of the western dessert.

Ten Mexicans and Egyptians were also injured and are being treated in a local hospital. Egyptian Ministry said it had formed a team to investigate the incident.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned the incident and demanded an exhaustive investigation by the Egyptian government. Mexican Foreign ministry confirmed that at least two of its nationals had been killed and the identities of the other victims were being confirmed.

The group of tourists was preparing to camp out in the vast Western Desert when they came under encounter. Security forces were pursuing Islamic militants in the desert, and targeted four vehicles which were away from the main road with an Apache helicopter, which shot and hit the vehicles. The vast Western Desert area is popular with foreign sightseers, but is also attractive to militants.

Tour company transporting the tourists apparently did not have permits and did not inform authorities, but this information has yet to be validated.

50 countries do not meet fiscal transparency requirements: US Report

Newsroom24x7 Flash

Department of StateThe US department of State has concluded that, of the 140 governments that were potential beneficiaries of foreign assistance and were evaluated 50 did not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency. Of these, eleven governments made significant progress toward meeting the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.

On January 14, US Secretary of State John Kerry released the FY 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report, assessing whether governments that receive U.S. assistance meet minimum requirements of fiscal transparency. The Department’s assessments evaluate the substantial completeness, reliability, and public availability of budget documents, as well as the transparency of natural resource extraction contracting and license procedures.

The Report is prepared under Section 7031(b) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014. The Report examines governments receiving bilateral allocations of assistance under the Act. In compiling the Report, the Department assessed the fiscal transparency of governments as of the date the Act became law.

Governments meeting fiscal transparency requirements

The Department assessed the following governments as meeting the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency for FY 2014: Albania, Angola, Armenia, Argentina, The Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, Vietnam, and Zambia.

The following table lists those governments that were found not to meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency and identifies whether the governments made significant progress toward meeting those requirements:

Governments Assessed Pursuant to the Act as not Meeting Minimum Requirements of Fiscal Transparency for FY 2014

Significant Progress

No Significant Progress

Afghanistan

X

Algeria

X

Azerbaijan

X

Bahrain

X

Bangladesh

X

Burkina Faso

X

Burma

X

Burundi

X

Cambodia

X

Cameroon

X

Central African Republic

X

Chad

X

China

X

Comoros

X

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

X

Congo, Republic of the

X

Dominican Republic

X

Egypt

X

Ethiopia

X

Fiji

X

Gabon

X

Gambia, The

X

Guinea

X

Guinea-Bissau

X

Haiti

X

Kazakhstan

X

Laos

X

Lebanon

X

Libya

X

Madagascar

X

Malawi

X

Maldives

X

Nicaragua

X

Niger

X

Nigeria

X

Oman

X

Sao Tome and Principe

X

Saudi Arabia

X

Somalia

X

South Sudan

X

Sudan

X

Suriname

X

Swaziland

X

Tajikistan

X

Tanzania

X

Turkmenistan

X

Ukraine

X

Uzbekistan

X

Yemen

X

Zimbabwe

X

US views fiscal transparency as a critical element of effective public financial management since it helps in building market confidence, and sets the stage for economic sustainability. Transparency also provides a window into government budgets for citizens of any country, helping them to hold their leadership accountable. Reviews of the fiscal transparency of governments that receive U.S. assistance help to ensure that U.S. taxpayer money is used appropriately and sustain a dialogue with governments to improve their fiscal performance, leading to greater macroeconomic stability and better development outcomes, the US department of State goes on to emphasise.

The Office of Monetary Affairs (OMA) monitors global macroeconomic developments and works to prevent and resolve financial crises in countries where U.S. interests are at risk. It seeks to increase the financial security of the United States and its key partners. OMA also works to expand global economic growth and development by advocating sound macroeconomic policies that foster economic stability and expand opportunities for U.S. trade and investment worldwide.

OMA provides the Secretary of State with expertise on global financial and macroeconomic issues, working in close cooperation with the Treasury Department’s Office of International Affairs. OMA is also the Department’s liaison with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In addition, OMA interacts with a wide range of foreign government officials and representatives of other international and non-governmental organizations. It also consults with representatives of private financial institutions to ensure that U.S. financial interests abroad are accurately and effectively reflected in U.S. foreign economic policy.

To help poorer countries overcome unsustainable debt burdens and improve their chances for economic growth and development, OMA promotes debt relief through the Paris Club, representing the Secretary of State as Head of the U.S. delegation. The Paris Club is the forum for coordinating debt relief policy among sovereign creditors and negotiating individual country debt treatments. Paris Club agreements can also affect non-member country and private sector creditors when debtor countries are required to seek comparable treatment. OMA also coordinates with the Treasury Department to formulate U.S. debt-relief policies more broadly and to promote initiatives through multilateral institutions.

OMA develops strategies to fight corruption and improve transparency from an economic and business perspective. OMA heads the U.S. delegation to the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, coordinates the interagency to combat bribery of foreign public officials, and ensures compliance with the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in Internationals in International Business Transactions, also known as the Anti-Bribery Convention.

Click Here for Government by Government Assessment (Fiscal Transparency Report)

Review of natural catastrophes in 2014: Lower losses from weather extremes and earthquakes

The absence of very severe catastrophes and a quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic meant that losses from natural catastrophes in 2014 were much lower. At US$ 7bn, the most expensive event in terms of overall loss was Cyclone Hudhud in India. Around 7,700 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes.

“Though tragic in each individual case, the fact that fewer people were killed in natural catastrophes last year is good news. And this development is not a mere coincidence. In many places, early warning systems functioned better, and the authorities consistently brought people to safety in the face of approaching weather catastrophes, for example before Cyclone Hudhud struck India’s east coast and Typhoon Hagupit hit the coast of the Philippines,” said Munich Re Board member Torsten Jeworrek. “However, the lower losses in 2014 should not give us a false sense of security, because the risk situation overall has not changed. There is no reason to expect a similarly moderate course in 2015. It is, however, impossible to predict what will happen in any individual year.”

The year at a glance

  • Overall losses from natural catastrophes totalled US$ 110bn (previous year US$ 140bn), of which roughly US$ 31bn (previous year US$ 39bn) was insured.
  • The loss amounts were well below the inflation-adjusted average values of the past ten years (overall losses: US$ 190bn, insured losses: US$ 58bn), and also below the average values of the past 30 years (US$ 130bn/US$ 33bn).
  • At 7,700, the number of fatalities was much lower than in 2013 (21,000) and also well below the average figures of the past ten and 30 years (97,000 and 56,000 respectively). The figure was roughly on a par with that of 1984. The most severe natural catastrophe in these terms was the flooding in India and Pakistan in September, which caused 665 deaths.
  • In total, 980 loss-related natural catastrophes were registered, a much higher number than the average of the last ten and 30 years (830 and 640). Broader documentation is likely to play an important role in this context, since, particularly in years with low losses, small events receive greater attention than was usual in the past.
  • The costliest natural catastrophe of the year was Cyclone Hudhud, with an overall loss of US$ 7bn. The costliest natural catastrophe for the insurance industry was a winter storm with heavy snowfalls in Japan, which caused insured losses of US$ 3.1bn.

Loss events
More than nine out of ten (92%) of the loss-related natural catastrophes were due to weather events. A striking feature was the unusually quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic, where only eight strong – and thus named – storms formed; the long-term average (1950–2013) is around 11. In contrast, the tropical cyclone season in the eastern Pacific was characterised by an exceptionally large number of storms, most of which did not make landfall. One storm in the eastern Pacific, Hurricane Odile, moved across the Baja California peninsula in a northerly direction and caused a loss of US$ 2.5bn (of which US$ 1.2bn was insured) in Mexico and southern states in the USA. In the northwestern Pacific, a relatively large number of typhoons hit the Japanese coast, but losses there remained small thanks to the high building and infrastructure standards in place.

“The patterns observed are well in line with what can be expected in an emerging El Niño phase. This characteristic of the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) phenomenon in the Pacific influences weather extremes throughout the world,” explained Peter Höppe, Head of Geo Risks Research at Munich Re. Water temperatures in the North Atlantic were below average. Atmospheric conditions such as lower humidity and stronger wind shear also inhibited the development of tropical cyclones. Even events like the severe windstorms and heavy rainfall in California in December following a long drought fit in with the El Niño pattern.

Höppe added that most scientists expect a light to moderate El Niño phase to persist until mid-2015. “Following the below-average incidence in 2014, this could increase the frequency of tornadoes in the USA. If the El Niño phase does, in fact, end towards the middle of the year, there would be no cushioning affects from the ENSO oscillation in the main phase of the tropical storm season.”

The costliest natural catastrophe of the year, Cyclone Hudhud, also illustrated the practical effect of measures by the authorities to limit damage. Hudhud reached its maximum strength on 10 October over the Gulf of Bengal, and with wind speeds of over 190 km/h, was a Category 4 storm (of a maximum 5). On 12 October, it made landfall near the Indian port of Visakhapatnam, an important economic centre with a population of two million in the Andhra Pradesh region. In some places, more than 120 litres of rain per square metre fell within 24 hours. Thanks to warnings from the Indian weather service, the authorities evacuated around half a million people and brought them to secure accommodation. This kept the number of fatalities for a catastrophe of this strength at a low level (84). Of the overall losses of approximately US$ 7bn, roughly US$ 530m was insured – a comparatively small proportion, but insurance density in India is showing pleasing constant growth.

The situation was similar with Typhoon Hagupit, which hit the Philippine island of Samar on 6 December, then headed for the main islands and the capital Manila. On making landfall, Hagupit was a Category 3 typhoon, with wind speeds exceeding 175 km/h at times. The storm was thus weaker than Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed over 6,000 people one year previously, but very destructive nonetheless. Before Hagupit struck, the authorities had evacuated 165.000 people in its track, with the result that the death toll was only 18.

On 24 August, an earthquake in the Napa Valley in California close to the town of Napa was like a wake-up call. Napa lies within a highly exposed, 70 km-wide zone that has several known faults forming part of the greater San Andreas fault system. Here the Pacific plate in the west is sliding past the North American plate in the east at the rate of roughly 6 cm per year. The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.0 and was therefore not extraordinarily strong for this region. Nevertheless, a large number of buildings were badly damaged. The economic loss amounted to US$ 700m, of which US$ 150m was insured. In many businesses in the important winegrowing area of this region, wine-processing machines were damaged and stocks destroyed. “The earthquake shows that the San Francisco region must prepare itself for bigger tremors too. However, these cannot be predicted,” said Höppe.

The greatest losses in North America over the past year stemmed from the unusually cold winter. Heavy frost lasting for weeks in many parts of the USA and Canada, along with heavy snowfalls and blizzards, particularly on the East Coast, caused losses of US$ 3.7bn in 2014 alone, of which US$ 2.3bn was insured.

The summer in Europe saw a very costly hailstorm, just as in the previous year. The trigger was the low pressure system Ela, which swept across France, Belgium and the western part of Germany in June, with high wind speeds and accompanied in places by hailstones up to 10 cm in diameter. The overall loss totalled US$ 3.5bn (€2.5bn), of which US$ 2.8bn (€2bn) was insured. In Germany, this hail storm caused losses of US$ 1.2bn (€880m) and insured losses of US$ 890m (€650m).

“Loss-related severe weather caused by thunderstorms, technically known as convective events, is demonstrably increasing in various regions like the USA and Central Europe. Hailfall can cause extreme losses. Measures to reduce loss susceptibility, for example that of buildings, are therefore of the utmost importance,” said Höppe.