Luxembourg blocks EU tax-evasion lawPublished: 3/12/14 @ 12:00
Luxembourg blocks EU tax-evasion law
European Union finance ministers failed once again Tuesday to agree on a sweeping new policy to fight tax evasion because of resistance from Luxembourg, a tiny country that long has prospered from a secretive banking culture.
EU Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said their failure was disappointing because, if approved, the legislation proposing an EU-wide automatic exchange of data on bank deposits would allow governments to “identify and chase up tax evaders.”
Luxembourg, a duchy of barely 500,000 people, was able to shelve the legislation for the 28-nation bloc and its 500 million citizens because the decision required unanimous approval at Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels.
Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said he could not vote in favor and pushed the decision to a summit of EU government leaders next week.
Bangladesh factory checks find flaws
Inspections of Bangladesh garment factories under a new safety initiative have found cracked support beams, extra floors apparently built without permits and exposed electrical cables chewed by rats.
Overly heavy structures on roofs, substandard building materials and even an unauthorized helicopter pad also were among the problems revealed in the first round of inspection reports released Tuesday.
The inspections are being funded by a group of mostly European fashion brands in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in April last year. They plan to check some 1,500 garment factories in Bangladesh this year. The country’s garment industry, its biggest export earner, has more than 5,000 factories overall.
Wholesaler sales fell 1.9% in January
U.S. wholesale businesses in January suffered their steepest sales drop in nearly five years, yet they continued to increase their stockpiles. This suggests that companies expect the economy to rebound after experiencing an abrupt winter slowdown.
Wholesalers boosted stockpiles 0.6 percent in January from December, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Rising stockpiles boost economic growth because they reflect increased production at factories, a sign that wholesalers anticipate a stronger economy.
But sales tumbled 1.9 percent in January. That’s the largest decline since March 2009, when the economy was in recession.
Heavy snowfall and bitter cold struck much of the United States in January, causing shoppers to stay at home and retail sales to fall 0.4 percent that month. Major store chains have reduced their profit outlooks, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest retailer.
Still, wholesale businesses have seen sales rise 3.9 percent year-over-year.