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Business messaging, WhatsApp engines of growth; biz digitisation driving headroom: Meta India head


Business messaging and WhatsApp are the next engine of growth and key priority for Meta in India, its top executive said exuding confidence that the company is “just getting started” given the “immense headroom” here, as more businesses digitise and transform.Businesses across the board are innovating and using WhatsApp to reach new audiences with sectors such as banking, e-commerce, gaming and small businesses taking the lead, Sandhya Devanathan, Vice President, Meta India, said.Businesses all across are innovating right from bill payment to sale of metro tickets, or banks sending statement balances, she said citing instances of how companies are embracing WhatsApp.”…Honestly I think we’re just scratching the surface, if we think about the headroom…I see WhatsApp as next engine of growth for our company here in India, so absolutely business messaging and WhatsApp are a key priority for India Meta organisation,” Devanathan told PTI.

WhatsApp monetisation in India is a “key priority” for Meta globally, she added.As per the last published numbers, Facebook has 440 million users in India, and Devanathan says that Meta has, since then, grown across its family of apps. As many as 200 million businesses are on WhatsApp globally, using the WhatsApp Business app. “We do not break down the India number, but it is a pretty good number, it is a huge number in India,” she said.”The reason why it (WhatsApp monetisation) is a priority is because we see that headroom, we are just getting started…Everything from bill payments now with NPCI to buying metro train tickets, I think Chennai is already live and we’ll have a few more getting added on…To banks sending statement balances,” she said asserting that Meta is seeing wave of innovation across verticals and sectors.

There is an immense potential as more than more companies here digitise and transform.”…Because the headroom is not going to come only from the marketing side. It is going to come from customer service, re-engagement, how they talk to their customers through entire journey like notifications or orders and things like that. So I’m excited about what you see there,” she said.WhatsApp engagement with JioMart (that allows consumers to shop from JioMart via WhatsApp chat) was a global-first for Meta.”We’re learning from that on how do we actually work with Tier 2, Tier 3 cities in India. Also, think about the other headroom — 400 million people end up shopping online in 2025, their first order of preference is not going to be to download an app…Their first form factor they’re going to be exposed to or gravitate towards is probably a messaging app and probably WhatsApp,” Devanathan said.

The popular messaging platform recently announced the expansion of its payments service in India to make it easier for people transacting with businesses to pay for purchases directly in the chat, with a choice of UPI apps, including rival digital payment options, as well as credit and debit cards.

Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg asserted that India is leading the world in people and businesses embracing messaging.WhatsApp is working with partners Razorpay and PayU “to make paying for something as simple as sending a message”, and the Meta-owned platform has unveiled a host of new features to woo businesses in the booming commerce market.A series of new tools have been announced for turbocharging businesses, including WhatsApp Flows and Meta verified badge, to “speed up how to get things done with businesses in a WhatsApp chat”.WhatsApp Flows is a new feature for businesses to create richer in-chat experiences for their customers like booking a reservation, ordering delivery or checking in for a flight, directly on WhatsApp. Businesses will be able to choose from a series of flexible, pre-made building blocks so they can easily design rich, customisable experiences for their customers.

Zuckerberg had said WhatsApp Flows gives businesses the ability to create customised experiences within chat threads. Citing some examples of how this would work, he had said that with ‘WhatsApp Flows’, a bank can build a way for customers to book an appointment to open a new account, a food delivery service can build a way to place an order from any of their partner restaurants or an airline can build a way to check in for a flight and pick up a seat. All this without having to leave the chat thread.

JTrain wins tender to build Jerusalem light rail Blue Line


The JTrain consortium has been chosen as the winning bid in the tender to build the Jerusalem light rail Blue Line, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport and Jerusalem Municipality have announced. The JTrain consortium is comprised of construction company Danya Cebus (TASE: DNYA), public transport company Dan and Spanish infrastructure company COMSA. The project will be built using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) method with JRail building, operating, maintaining and financing the project.

The Jerusalem light rail Blue Line project will include building and laying the tracks for three lines extending over 31 kilometers from Gilo and Talpiot in southern Jerusalem to Ramat Eshkol and Ramot in the north of the city. The line will include a two kilometer underground section from Jaffa Road in the city center beneath Geula and Mea Shearim to Sanhedria. There will be 53 stations along the line including three underground stations. The project also includes a new light rail depot in Malkah to accommodate 66 new light rail trains manufactured by Polish company PESA. JTrain estimates that the project will cost NIS 9 billion to build.

According to the announcement, the Blue Line will begin operations in stages between 2028 and 2030, although sources in the industry believe that this is an over-ambitious target date.

30% difference from the other bids to maintain lines

There has been criticism of the slowness of the examination of the bids and the delay of one year in announcing the results. The examination included a technical phase and a financial phase and the delay was due to the aggressive offer by the winning group, with scrutiny focusing on its ability to realize its economic plans. The difference of the winning group’s proposal was from the other bids to maintain lines. Another threat to the timetables lies in the widespread protests of part of the ultra-orthodox public against the construction of the lines.

There were also those surprised by the choice because in Jerusalem, Shapir and CAF are responsible for the construction of the other lines, and some believed that the tenders committee would prefer continuity and uniformity.

JTrain will operate the Blue Line for seven years with an option for another 18 years, while maintaining the network for 25 years.

The Jerusalem light rail Red Line between Pisgat Zeev and Mount Herzl began operating in 2011 and is currently being extended to Hadasah Hospital in the south and Neve Yaakov in the north. The Green Line between the Mount Scopus and Givat Ram campuses of the Hebrew University and Gilo is under construction and is due to be completed in 2025.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – – on September 21, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Global Helium Corp. Announces Grant of Stock Options


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CALGARY, Alberta, Sept. 22, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Global Helium Corp. (“HECO” or the “Company“) (CSE: HECO, OTC: HECOF) today announces the Company has granted stock options (the “Options“) under HECO’s stock option plan (the “Option Plan“) to certain directors and officers (the “Option Recipients“).

In total, 1,050,000 Options have been granted, with each Option representing the right to receive one common share of the Company upon vesting, exercisable at a price of $0.25. The Options will vest as to 25% on each of the 6th, 12th, 18th, and 24th month anniversaries of the date of grant. The Options will expire on September 22, 2028. These grants represent compensation to the Option Recipients for their respective service to HECO as directors and officers of the Company and as an incentive mechanism to foster the interest of such persons in the success of the Company.

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About Global Helium Corp.

Global Helium is one of Canada’s largest helium exploration and development companies, focused on the exploration, acquisition, development, and production of helium, done right. The Company has carved out a differentiated position through a unique Farm-In Agreement with industry veteran, Perpetual Energy Inc., through which HECO can explore approximately 369,000 acres in Alberta’s Manyberries helium trend via joint venture. The Company has also captured 100%-owned permits encompassing over 1.7 million acres prospective for helium in Saskatchewan’s well-established helium fairway and has recently acquired three assets with proven helium tests in the State of Montana. HECO brings a seasoned team of industry professionals and technical experts who have established connections with North American and international helium buyers. Learn more at

For further information please contact:

Jesse Griffith, President & CEO
Walter Spagnuolo, Investor Relations
Telephone: +1 (877) 816-8163

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Forward Looking Statements

No securities regulatory authority has reviewed nor accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of the content of this news release.

This news release contains forward-looking statements and other statements that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements are often identified by terms such as “will”, “may”, “should”, “anticipate”, “expects” and similar expressions. All statements other than statements of historical fact, included in this internal announcement are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s expectations include the failure to satisfy the conditions of the relevant securities exchange(s) and other risks detailed from time to time in the filings made by the Company with securities regulators. The reader is cautioned that assumptions used in the preparation of any forward-looking information may prove to be incorrect. Events or circumstances may cause actual results to differ materially from those predicted, as a result of numerous known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, many of which are beyond the control of the Company.

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The reader is cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking information. Such information, although considered reasonable by management at the time of preparation, may prove to be incorrect and actual results may differ materially from those anticipated. Forward-looking statements contained in this internal announcement are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement. The forward-looking statements contained in this internal announcement are made as of the date of this internal announcement and the Company will update or revise publicly any of the included forward-looking statements as expressly required by applicable law.


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Uniq: Shoprite sacrifices a little margin to beat Woolies on price


Africa’s largest retailer Shoprite’s Uniq clothing store promises quality at lower prices, and is letting go of some margin to deliver that promise to consumers.

This strategy, it says, will allow it to undercut the Woolworths Group on price for clothing of similar – or better – quality.



“We think we are going to be, price-wise, similar to or just below Woolworths but with better quality … we think we will be selling the same level of quality as a Country Road but priced a little bit similar to Woolworths, so that’s kind of how we are pitching our price-points,” clothing specialist for Uniq, Michael Coles, tells Moneyweb.

Read: Shoprite opens its first apparel store, with one eye on PnP Clothing

“We are giving up a little bit of margin. But that’s how we do things. The whole idea here is for our business to be margin accretive. We are not looking to [achieve] the margins that Woolworths is doing or Mr Price is doing. We’ve got a [more] conservative approach as long as it’s margin accretive,” adds Coles.

This strategy, he says, will benefit all stakeholders, including the customer and the shareholder.

The Shoprite Group ventured into the clothing business earlier this year with the launch of its first Uniq store in Canal Walk, Cape Town.

Since then, nine more stores have been rolled out across the country, including Ballito Junction Mall and Galleria in KwaZulu-Natal, Table Bay Mall in Cape Town, Secunda Mall in Mpumalanga, as well as Dainfern Square and Menlyn Park in Gauteng.

The latest opening at The Zone @ Rosebank in Gauteng brings the store count to 10, with the group announcing plans to open eight more stores by the end of the year.

‘Solid strategy’

Sasfin senior equity analyst Alec Abraham tells Moneyweb the strategy Shoprite has set out with the Uniq brand is solid. This is especially true considering the range it offers that is anchored in quality essential and functional wear – a segment of the market that may be underserved as other retailers pursue trends.

He adds that with consumers under pressure, many, like those in the wealthier income groups, are being forced to buy down. Uniq fills that gap by being the next landing spot for shoppers priced out of more expensive branded clothing but who still like quality.

Read: How mighty Shein is hurting TFG, Mr Price, others

“I think Woolworths, in their machinations of trying to move upmarket and maybe trying to be more fashionable to try and contend with the threat from Zara and H&M, they have muddied up that space a little bit, and I think they’ve actually created a gap for a quality player that can come in and possibly fill that gap. I think that’s probably what Shoprite has identified, and is trying to fill it.”

Man behind the brand

Coles, the main man behind the new clothing segment, has a long history in the clothing business, specifically businesses that leverage grocery retail dominance.

He has worked for the group’s main competitors, and credits himself with growing the Pick n Pay Clothing business, having started as general manager in 1995 when clothes were only offered in Pick n Pay Hyper stores. Later, in 2002, he led the charge in opening clothing stores across the country. Today, Pick n Pay has about 300 standalone clothing stores.

Coles later joined Woolworths, as GM of the Fashion, Beauty and Home division between 2019 and 2021. He steered the division through the challenging pandemic period, which saw a drain of consumer spending on office wear at the height of the work-from-home phenomenon.

Shoprite’s R215bn sales boom
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With all this history in the business, he tells Moneyweb it was important for him to deliver something different for the group.

This difference has come with a strong emphasis on technological innovations in stores, such as the self-service-only checkout, sleek and luxury-leaning store design, and creating a brand identity separate from the group’s core grocery business.



“We are differentiating ourselves by virtue of the fabrics that we pick and by virtue of the fact that we will offer only core shapes but with an acknowledgement of fashion.

“But the most important thing is we’ve got technology that tells us what the customer likes and what the customer doesn’t like,” says Coles.

He Coles notes that Uniq stores will continue to grow as standalone stores – targeting about 500m2 of space – with no overlap planned with the grocery offering.

“No department store, but if we find bigger sites, we will take them. For example, if we can get 700m2 at Sandton, we won’t say no, and then we’ll find some additional categories just for Sandton to make it unique to other brands. But we will approach that as we go.”

Competitors like Pick n Pay and Woolworths have merged their different divisions – food, clothing and appliances – into large format hyper/supermarket stores over the years. Retailers like Makro and Game have also used this department store layout, which sought to give consumers the one-stop shop benefit.

Apparel, grocery retailers boost trading density growth at malls
Could Woolworths’s fashion turnaround strategy finally be taking shape?
Traditionally cash-based Mr Price sees rise in credit purchases

Although still offering this version of shopping convenience to consumers, Woolworths has recently begun creating more distance between divisions with the opening of smaller W.Edit stores.


According to Coles, existing store sales have largely met the group’s expectations, falling mostly within or above target, with only a few still building momentum.

The first three years of Uniq’s existence will be about pursuing growth and establishing its position in the “value luxury” market. After that, says Coles, the business will focus on pursuing profit.

He adds that the business saw relatively high setup costs and it should take about 18 months to two years to recover these.

“We are in the fortunate position now of not having comparative sales, so unlike the other retailers, they are comparing themselves to how they did before … and are taking action accordingly. We are fortunate that we don’t have to worry about last year’s sales because there are none, so everything for us is new and free turnover if you like.

“I think our ‘managing’ issues will start probably two to three years down the track when we start getting proper traction in terms of sales densities, turnover and stocking up the stores to a certain level. I think we will start worrying about those metrics in due course,” Coles says.

For Abraham, the three-years-til-profit target Uniq has set for itself leans a little too much on the ambitious side, more so in light of the current poor economic conditions, which find consumers’ discretionary income wanting.

“It seems a little ambitious given the fact that we are in such a tough economy. Maybe that would’ve been realistic when we had decent growth in the economy,” he says.

“Three years could be done, but you’re going to need to build up scale very quickly, very efficiently, and you’re going to take market share. I think a lot has to go right for them to achieve profitability within three years.”


Unraveling the implications of UK’s new Net Zero Targets


As I watched Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveil the government’s new Net Zero targets, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment. It’s a day that will go down in history as a black mark against British business, and one we will rue for years to come.

Sunak’s announcement marks a disconcerting shift in priorities that could have catastrophic implications for British businesses. It’s a stark departure from the UK’s previous commitment to sustainability and the long-term benefits it brings, both economically and environmentally.

For many businesses, this new policy feels like a sudden pulling of the rug from under our feet. We’ve been striving hard to align our strategies with the initial Net Zero targets, investing significantly in greener and more sustainable practices. Now, the goalpost has been moved, and the consequences for businesses are grave.

With this change, businesses will face mounting challenges. The financial burden of adopting new practices to meet these new targets, combined with the uncertainty surrounding the specifics of the policy, will place enormous strain on SMEs. This could result in job losses, reduced competitiveness, and potential business closures.

The impact extends beyond the immediate business sphere. Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable and ethical businesses. A shift away from our previous environmental commitments could potentially damage our reputation in the eyes of consumers, both domestically and internationally.

The Importance of Sustainability

What Sunak’s announcement overlooks is the long-term benefits of sustainability. Prioritising sustainability isn’t just about protecting the environment; it’s also about creating a resilient and future-proof economy.

Green practices stimulate innovation, create jobs, and open up new markets. They make us more competitive on a global scale. By turning our backs on these benefits, we are effectively sabotaging our own future.

A Call to Reconsider

This policy change is more than a mere adjustment of targets. It’s a clear message about where our government’s priorities lie. It’s a decision that underestimates the resilience and adaptability of British businesses, and one that sidelines the importance of sustainability.

As businesses, we must not let this announcement deter us from our commitment to sustainability. We must continue to innovate and find ways to reduce our carbon footprints. We need to keep reminding the government and the public why sustainability should be at the forefront of any economic strategy.

It’s a dark day for British business, but it’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to stand up for what we believe in and to show that we won’t be swayed by short-term political decisions.

Let’s use this as a catalyst to engage in deeper discussions about the kind of future we want for our businesses, our economy, and our planet. Today, more than ever, we must reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and the long-term benefits it brings. Only then can we hope to navigate the challenges that lie ahead and emerge stronger on the other side.

Richard Alvin

Richard Alvin is a serial entrepreneur, a former advisor to the UK Government about small business and an Honorary Teaching Fellow on Business at Lancaster University.

A winner of the London Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the year and Freeman of the City of London for his services to business and charity. Richard is also Group MD of Capital Business Media and SME business research company Trends Research, regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts in the SME sector and an active angel investor and advisor to new start companies.

Richard is also the host of Save Our Business the U.S. based business advice television show.

This High-Intensity Exercise Routine is Great for Busy Schedules


Optimize your time with this effective training style.

Jam-packed scheduIes can make working out consistently quite a daunting task. Unfortunately, the more often you skip your workouts, the easier it becomes to skip more. This eventually leads to your giving up your fitness routine altogether.

But what if we change the way we think about exercise? Does it have to take up a large portion of our time? The answer is NO, and this high-intensity exercise routine proves it!

Guidelines and Benefits of High-Intensity Exercise

Consistently performing this routine is a great way to lose fat and get healthy!

According to the HHS, the average adult should aim to get either 150 minutes of moderate activity exercise OR 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise every week. One of the main benefits of a high-intensity type of training is that it can literally be completed in half the amount of time! Perfect for busy schedules, no?

High-intensity workouts also elevate metabolic rate for several hours after completing a routine, which means you will burn more calories and fat. This form of training has been found to preserve and possibly even build lean muscle mass better than longer, lower-intensity routines, as well. And finally, research shows that high-intensity training may be able to significantly reduce blood pressure and heart rate in overweight individuals. 

The Best Routine for Busy Schedules

This High-Intensity Exercise Routine is Great for Busy Schedules!

Now that you know this form of training is quick and effective, aren’t you excited to try our high-intensity exercise routine?!

We’ve decided to keep the required equipment to a minimum so that you can perform this routine pretty much anywhere. All you need is a timer, a jump rope, and something to step up on (like a bench, stair, or sturdy coffee table). 

Perform each exercise (and rest) for the amount of time specified for your fitness level. Now remember, you should aim for at least 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. That said, all fitness levels should complete either 3 rounds total for a 15-minute workout, five times per week or 5 rounds total for a 25-minute workout, 3 times per week. That’s easy, right?

Fitness Levels

Beginner: 30 seconds on / 30 seconds off

Intermediate: 40 seconds on / 20 seconds off

Advanced: 50 seconds on / 10 seconds off


  1. Walking Lunges
  2. Single Unders (with Jump Rope)
  3. Burpees with Push-Ups
  4. Single Unders (with Jump Rope)
  5. Alternating Step-Ups

Be sure to watch the instructional videos below before beginning the routine. Remember that form is an important aspect of a healthy workout, so focus on how to do the exercises, not just how long.

Instructional Videos

Walking Lunges

Single Unders (with Jump Rope)

Burpees with Push-Ups

Alternating Step-Ups

So, after reading this post, are you inspired to integrate this high-intensity exercise routine into your busy schedule? If you do, be sure to let us know what you thought and how you feel in the comment section!

For more great routines, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest. You can also subscribe to our eNewsletter to get the latest articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Government now takes up to Sh79 in tax for every litre of fuel



Government now takes up to Sh79 in tax for every litre of fuel


Consumers are now paying up to Sh79 as taxes per litre of fuel, underlining the impact of the charges in inflating petroleum prices that will see the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) collect Sh29.2 billion per month from diesel, petrol and kerosene sales.

The latest price review shows that Sh79.31 goes to taxes and levies on every litre of petrol followed by Sh67.35 a litre of diesel — the most used fuel in the Kenyan economy. Taxes and levies account for Sh62.81 for every litre of kerosene.

The higher composition of taxes and levies will see the KRA raise an estimated Sh5.79 billion more per month from the three fuels from the Sh23.38 billion raised per month since September last year before the doubling of value-added tax (VAT) to 16 percent.

Taxes and levies as a component of the price of a litre of fuel have significantly grown on the back of the increase in the landed cost of the commodity and the doubling of VAT two months ago.

In the monthly pricing review to October 14 last year, taxes and levies accounted for Sh64.14 per litre of super petrol, Sh53.39 for every litre of diesel and Sh46.81 per litre of kerosene.

Read: Daniel Kiptoo: Epra director-general is under increased pressure after a record rise in fuel prices

A litre of diesel jumped by Sh21.32 to Sh200.99 in Nairobi in the latest price review while that of super petrol rose by Sh13.96 to Sh211.64. Kerosene jumped by the highest margin of Sh33.13 a litre to 202.61 effective Friday, triggering public uproar.

President William Ruto has in the past said that the government does not overtax fuel, despite the growing public anger over the high prices and the ripple effects on the cost of living.

“We are not overtaxing ourselves,” Dr Ruto said early this year when he argued for doubling of VAT to 16 percent from July 1.

The taxes, some of which are levied in percentage points, help to drive up final prices as the cost of the products rise in the international markets.

Excise tax is the biggest tax per litre on fuel followed by VAT. The levies are road maintenance levy, petroleum development levy, import declaration fee, petroleum regulatory levy, railway development levy, anti-adulteration levy and merchant shipping levy.

Parliament approved the doubling of VAT through the Finance Act 2023, setting off high prices that shot even higher after the government discontinued stabilisation of fuel to cushion consumers.

Dr Ruto argued that the doubling of VAT will be balanced by the removal of the railway development levy (two percent) and import declaration fee (3.5 percent).

The KRA raised Sh27.96 billion in taxes and levies last month and Sh23.38 billion in September last year, based on the petroleum consumption figures from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra).

Parliament in 2021 failed to adopt a report by its Finance committee to cut VAT on petroleum products from the then eight percent to four percent.

The committee had also recommended a reduction of the petroleum development levy from Sh5.40 to Sh2.50 per litre.

The Treasury has over the years resisted attempts by lawmakers to reduce the levies and taxes on fuel products, underlining their importance in the KRA’s tax collections.

Doubling of the VAT from July 1 this year marked the start of a surge in pump prices and increased collections by the taxman.

Kenya, like other economies that do not produce oil, is grappling with a spike in global costs of crude, a situation made worse by the series of taxes and a decision to eliminate the stabilisation fund, amid pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Prices of refined fuel have been on a surge in the past three months, driven by the closure of several refineries, increased demand from Europe ahead of the winter season and production cuts by major producers such as Saudi Arabia.

The IMF —one of Kenya’s single biggest financing partners— also got its way after the government bowed to pressure and rejected calls to stabilise pump prices to cushion Kenyans.

The Bretton Woods institution in July last year pushed Kenya to drop the fuel stabilisation scheme, saying that it had continually disrupted budgetary planning besides distorting market dynamics.

The Treasury last week disclosed that excise duty on fuel will be revised upwards by April next year as part of conditions from the IMF under a financing deal in what will burden consumers further.

Read: Treasury eyes higher excise duty on fuel in IMF deal

The draft Medium-Term Revenue Strategy (MTRS) for the period between June 2024 and June 2027 shows the excise duty on petroleum products will be reviewed to “address the negative externalities, or negative effects, of consuming these fuels”.

“Going forward, possible options include the introduction of a carbon tax or increasing the excise tax on fossil fuels to better capture the externalities associated with fossil fuel consumption in line with the recommendations from the IMF climate policy diagnostic mission,” the Treasury says in the MTRS.

[email protected]

House OK’s mining fiscal regime bill


THE HOUSE of Representatives on Monday approved on second reading a bill establishing a new fiscal regime for the mining sector, which seeks to impose a margin-based royalty and windfall profits tax on miners.

Lawmakers approved House Bill No. 8937, one of the priority measures of the Marcos administration, through voice vote.

Under the bill, large-scale metallic mining operations within mineral reservations would be subject to a 4% royalty rate of the gross output of minerals or mineral products extracted.

Iloilo Rep. Lorenz R. Defensor had introduced the amendment to raise the royalty rate to 4%, from 3% in the committee report.

A margin-based royalty will be imposed on income of metallic mining operations outside mineral reservations.

For instance, miners with margins of 1% up to 10% would be subject to a 1% rate. This royalty rate can go up to as high as 5% for those with margins above 70%.

Under the bill, small-scale mining operations would face a royalty rate equivalent to 1/10 of 1% of gross output of minerals or mineral products extracted or produced. 

The measure would also impose a margin-based windfall profits tax on mining operations. Miners with margins of more than 35% up to 40% would face a tax rate of 1%, while those with margins of more than 80% will be imposed a 10% rate.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau would also require metallic mining companies to submit an assay report for each shipment before leaving the loading ports.

The bill also mandates “ring-fencing to prevent consolidation of income and expenses of all mining projects by the same taxpayer to ensure that losses from other mining projects could not be deducted from more profitable projects.”

All small-scale miners would be required to register with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, as well as local government units. The bill encourages them to organize into cooperatives to qualify for the awarding  of a People’s Small-Scale Mining Contract.

“With the structural changes to the mining fiscal regime proposed under House Bill No. 8937, the government is projected to collect an additional P1.93 billion in royalties and taxes every year,” House Ways and Means Committee Vice Chairperson and Nueva Ecija Rep. Mikaela Angela B. Suansing said in her sponsorship speech on Sept. 5.

The proposed fiscal regime for the mining sector is expected to yield P12.4 billion in 2025, P12.9 billion in 2026, P13.4 billion in 2027, and P13.9 billion in 2028, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno.

Mr. Diokno in July urged Congress to immediately pass the mining tax reform measure, noting that foreign investors want a more simplified tax regime for the sector.

In his State of the Nation Address last July, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said the proposed mining fiscal regime is one of his administration’s priority measures.

However, it is not included in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council’s list of 20 priority measures targeted for Congress approval by December.

There is currently no counterpart measure filed in the Senate. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to meet with U.S. senators


President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to visit the Capitol and meet with senators on Thursday, a Senate leadership aide told NBC News.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will host an all-senators meeting with Zelenskyy on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET, according to the aide. A location is still to be determined.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More from NBC News:

Zelenskyy is also expected to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, a person familiar with the plans previously told NBC News. And he plans to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this week during his trip to the U.S., a senior Ukrainian official said.

Biden last met with Zelenskyy in July at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

“I hope we finally have put to bed the notion about whether or not Ukraine is welcome in NATO. It’s going to happen,” Biden said in remarks before their bilateral meeting. “We’re moving — you’re all moving in the right direction. I think it’s just a matter of getting by the next few months here.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv this month, meeting with Zelenskyy and senior Ukrainian officials to “demonstrate the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democracy, especially in the face of Russia’s aggression,” a State Department spokesperson said.

While Blinken visited Kyiv, the State Department announced additional U.S. aid to the country, including $100 million in foreign military financing, $90.5 million in humanitarian demining assistance and $300 million to support law enforcement efforts in liberated regions.

Zelenskyy last addressed a joint meeting of Congress in December of last year, pleading for continued support as Republicans prepared to take control of the House, where aid to Ukraine was expected to come under more scrutiny and opposition.

“Your money is not charity. It is an investment in global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” he told U.S. lawmakers. “Let the world see that the United States is here.”

“Your decisions can save millions of people,” he added.

Winner of $2B Powerball jackpot buying fancy homes around Los Angeles


The winner of the record-breaking $2 billion Powerball jackpot has wasted little time enjoying his newfound riches—and he’s been focused on California real estate.

Edwin Castro bought the winning ticket last November at a Mobil gas station in Altadena, about 30 minutes outside Los Angeles. He came forward to claim his prize in February, choosing to receive nearly $1 billion in cash, which after taxes came out to about $628 million. The other option was to collect the full prize through an annuity over 29 years, which many financial advisors consider the better strategy.

In March, Castro bought a $25.5 million hillside home in Hollywood Hills, not far from celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Ariana Grande. One of the neighborhood’s priciest sales ever, the five-bedroom, six-bathroom house sports a gym, game room, wine cellar, and movie theater.

Castro also spent $4 million on a Japanese-inspired house in Altadena, his home town, close to the gas station where his fortunes changed. It has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a saltwater pool, according to the listing.

And he made a much splashier purchase earlier this month, forking over $47 million for a seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom home with panoramic views of Los Angeles and a large infinity pool, according to USA Today, which noted he now owns a vintage Porsche 911.

California law requires that the names of lottery winners be made public. Many jackpot recipients would rather keep their good fortune private, with safety being one concern. Castro declined to appear at a news conference held by lottery officials, but he did release a statement indicating he was “shocked and ecstatic” to have won. 

California lottery director Alva Johnson said in February that Castro would like to “largely remain private.”

The owner of the gas station that sold the winning ticket said that Castro, once a regular customer, paid him a visit. 

“He just came to tell me, ‘Thank you. This changed my life,’” Joseph Chahayed told the Los Angeles Times in March. “I encouraged him to be generous.” (Chahayed, who immigrated from Syria in 1980, hit a jackpot as well, with his gas station awarded $1 million for selling the winning ticket.)

While Castro quickly set about enjoying his new wealth, financial advisers suggest taking some time before making large purchases in order to let your emotions settle down.

“Don’t go out and buy a Ferrari, don’t buy a mansion,” Emily Irwin, managing director of advice and planning at Wells Fargo’s Wealth & Investment Management, told Fortune in July. “Maybe you have student loans you want to pay off, that makes sense. But try to avoid that mega purchase.”

And before claiming the prize, she advises, assemble a team of professionals who can help manage the money effectively, such as a lawyer, a financial advisor, and perhaps a philanthropic advisor.