Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thank you for your omy nomination.

I've received a notification today that someone nominated my blog as the "Most Insightful Blog" at Singapore Blog Awards. I was really surprised that someone actually bothered to nominate my humble blog, considering that I'm doing nothing but just sharing my thoughts on a number of things.

Anyway, this post is to thank the person for nominating my blog. As a courtesy, I have responded to the nomination but I doubt I'll do anything special about it. :)

However, it's good to know that someone appreciates the information I'm sharing here, and think that it's useful. Ok, back to my regular schedule. Thanks again. :)

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Boundaries are important!

Adults are no different from children in at least one aspect, the need for boundaries to be defined.

Why do I say that? It always seem that without the boundaries, adults will like to do anything that they feel like doing.

For example, when you see a whole group of people patiently queuing up for the escalator, there will always be a few adults who think they are VERY IMPORTANT, and refused to queue up together with the rest. In fact, some even like to sneak past you, even though they can see clearly that there is a long queue ahead.

If you have a few people manning the escalator queue, most will be orderly. Meaning, "a boundary" must be established before there is order. The boundaries would be dictated by the people directing the queue.

This is idiotic... Do it for children, I understand. But for adults?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Solving problems

I quote from Albert Einstein:

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

This quote shows that I have a lot to learn about resolving problems. In my line of work, my job is to resolve problems and yet, this line has never occurred to me.

If you use the same kind of thinking while trying to resolve the problem, you will end up thinking of the problem, and not of the solution. However, how to turn your mind away from the problem is easier said than done.

I think I have to sleep on it.

Balloting or Walk-in?

Recently, the old arguments of balloting vs walk-in selection for buying of properties have been reignited again.

Personally, I prefer walk-in selection than balloting. The reason is very simple. When you buy a flat during walk-in selection (no balloting), you know what you're getting, and you can confirm the buy on the spot.

Balloting? First you have to "register" your ballot. Later on, you'll get a "lucky draw" number. If you see the number in the realm of 4 digits, you give up and you try another. If not, you'll take leave to make a trip down to see if you can get the flat that you're eyeing at.

To me, that's a complete waste of time. Sometimes after all these hassle, you can't get anything! All those arguments about first-timer getting how many extra chances, family with kids, etc etc hold no water with me. Why? A hint... You're not the only person with the extra chances.

There are also many people who enter many ballots at the same time. In Singapore lingo, tikam tikam. See which queue number is shorter. This actually makes the balloting more tedious because you have many people in the queue who are not serious in buying the flat. They are just trying their luck. Recently, HDB tried to stop it with extra rules. However, the rules came a little too late (property down-turn), so it's hard to see if its effective.

Walk-in selection of course have their own cons. People queuing up for 2-3 days, need to know what are the upcoming properties so you can be the first in the queue, etc...

Personally, I'm anti-balloting. Complete waste of time, and a waste of $10. However, you have no choice in the matter, unless you're rich enough to buy private flats.

I just wonder if there are any ways to stop people from putting so many ballots at the same time. Hmm...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inflation is up 1.6%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2009:
January: 2.9%
February: 1.9%
March: 1.6%

Food and Housing is leading the charge, rising by 4.6% and 5.5% respectively year on year. Surprisingly, compared to February, food prices has risen for March. This proves that Singaporeans do not stinge on food. Housing prices has been moderating downwards, as expected. Transport & Communication prices has dropped the most, which is similar to last month. The rest of the CPI basket did not vary much compared to last month.

Transport & Communication, and Housing will most probably go down a fair bit in April, and will continue to tread downwards. Judging from the trend, it also seems that food prices is quite resilient, and will remain stable for at least the first half of the year. I'm still of view that inflation will still be positive in April to June, ranging around at least 1%.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can EMAS vehicles do a dual role in clearing road obstructions like tree branches?

After a freak wind at around midnight last night, the first thing that came into my mind (other than closing all the windows) is that there will be a big traffic jam tomorrow. Sure enough, it came true.

After this kind of freak wind, it's almost a 99.999% certainty that either the trees will get uprooted, or the branches will be snapped off. And very often, this causes a road block, causing a massive traffic jam.

As Singapore is small, all our roads are built in an "efficient" manner. That means no room for blockages. Somehow, this led me into thinking of the EMAS tow trucks "patrolling" the expressways. It's known that once you stop at the road shoulder with hazard lights, very often an EMAS tow truck will come to you in a matter of minutes. I was thinking that since this system is already in place, why not pay the patrolling EMAS vehicles a bit more, and let them be in-charged of clearing the road branches or provide assistance to clear big uprooted trees while patrolling? I'm sure the tow trucks would be strong enough to move trees since they are able to tow vehicles. It will help tremendously in this case of the midnight freak winds since the branches would have already been cleared in the morning when people goes to work.

Won't that be more proactive, than reactive? Just a thought...

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Disconnect Session after Retrieving File from Server

Previously, I have encountered a situation in Windows when I use my account on someone's machine to access a SAMBA shared folder to retrieve a file that someone needs. The problem is that my account is able to access to some areas that the user is not suppose to access, and once you've accessed the shared folder with your account, the shared folder will be accessible without any further password prompting until it gets auto-disconnected.

The solution is to disconnect the session after you have done whatever that you wish to do on the SAMBA server. To disconnect, just do the following:
  1. Goto Start > Run
  2. Type net session \\[computer name] /delete

The session will be disconnected, and the user will get the password prompt again if they wish to access the same folder.

Hope this helps...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Believe in yourself III

Unknown quote:

To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Do not waste time trying to be someone you're not. Instead, focus on your strengths, and build on it.

We're all unique. We're all special. Let no one tell you otherwise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream

Updated 23 Apr 2009: Removed Susan Boyle's embedded video in Yahoo as it causes problems in IE

Seems like the recent Britain's Got Talent 2009 threw out a surprise to everyone. Nobody expected Susan Boyle's to have such an amazing voice. That was a moving performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

This reinforces what we should all keep to heart. Never judge a book by its cover. Good luck Susan.

The embedded video is a short clip. There is a longer version in Youtube here.

This also reminds me of Paul Potts in Britain's Got Talent 2007. You can see him singing "Time to Say Goodbye" in the embedded video below.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Parc Lumiere @ Simei

Updated 18 Apr 2009: Added average psf, configuration info
Updated 21 Apr 2009: Almost sold out
Updated 26 Jul 2009: Left 5 room flats for non-Chinese

Finally the last DBSS site is launched, and it is launched so close to the launch of The Peak. Usually I will wait for more information like floor plans, to come before I write about it, but in this case I will have to make an exception due to the unique way Sim Lian is handling the sale.

I will not repeat what I have written in my other posts on DBSS. You can refer to my The Peak post here, my Natura Loft post here, my Park Central post here, and my CityView post here. The CityView post includes some of the calculations I did to see if it fits into my affordability matrix.

DBSS @ Simei has been named Parc Lumiere, and is located at Simei Road. What is unique about Parc Lumiere is that the sale is to be done on a first come first served basis (Walk-in selection). The pricing of the units start from $425 psf. The pricing and configuration are as follows:

4 room94 sqm
(120 units)
from $378,000
Living room w/ Balcony and Planter
5 room107 sqm
111 sqm
(240 units)
from $462,000
Living room w/ Balcony and Planter, and Master Bedroom w/ Balcony
Living room w/ big Balcony and Planter, and Study
Living room w/ Balcony and Planter, and Study

The unit comes with floor finishes, built-in kitchen cabinets, cooker hood and hob, built-in wardrobes, bathroom fittings, and air-conditioning systems to the bedrooms. According to the map by HDB here, it's not very far from Simei MRT. I judge it to be about 500m away. The closest shopping centre I can see is Eastpoint Mall, and it's near quite a few golf courses, and Singapore Expo.

The reason why I've decided to post early is because viewing is available from 18 Apr 2009 10am to 7pm, at the showflat at Simei Road. Booking is suppose to start on 21 Apr, but judging that there was already a queue at 8am this morning, it's highly likely that the bookings may be open starting from 18 Apr instead of 21 Apr.

As mentioned above, the bookings are done on a first come first served basis, a departure from the rest of the DBSS/HDB sales. It also seems that the bookings will only be done at the showflats. Translated... You will need to get all of the relevant documents ready if you really wish to buy a unit at Parc Lumiere. One example would be the HDB Loan Eligibility Letter, which you can get from HDB website here.

You can find more information of what you need to know at the following that is linked from Sim Lian:
  • DBSS Brochure here.
  • DBSS Fact sheet here.
  • Application procedures here.
  • Terms and conditions here.
  • FAQ here.

Does this look bad for The Peak? Location wise, The Peak is definitely better. However, Sim Lian changed the rules by going to the first come first served route, and the prices are definitely much cheaper than The Peak. Sales of The Peak will definitely be affected. I myself never had much luck in the balloting previously.

Flat wise, I cannot comment because I've yet to see the floor plan. Looking at the floor plan, it seems that Parc Lumiere units will be slightly bigger than The Peak. The kitchen however is still very tiny. I also do not understand why the smaller 5 room unit has a master bedroom balcony. I would have thought the master bedroom balcony should be best suited on the biggest 5 room unit.

The price is more affordable than the other DBSS launches though. Looking at the psf price, I do not think you can find a condo or private apartment anywhere in Singapore at $425 psf.

Note that even though the sale is handled on a first come first served basis, the flats are still not built. It's only estimated to be ready by 2012.

Good luck to those queuing out there now.

Update 1: As of 21 Apr 2009, all the 4 rooms are sold out. Only low level 5 room flats are available. As expected...

Update 2: As of 26 Jul 2009, limited 5 rooms are available for non-Chinese.

Rich Life? Or Thin Life?

I quote from Katharine Butler Hathaway:

It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life, and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin.

How true this is... When you trust your instinct, you tend to do things in a manner that people will not think of doing, usually due to the complexity. You will end up feeling stress over it, but in the end when the dust settles, you'll have a sense of fulfillment.

Through the process, you'll find that your life is certainly "richer" than if you have not followed your instinct. That's the nature of it. Otherwise, it will not be called instinct.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Peak @ Toa Payoh

Updated 16 Apr 2009: Updated the price range based on the comments (Thanks!).

Happened to hear the news that the Toa Payoh DBSS is open for balloting. What is so special about this DBSS by HoiHup? You can find absolutely no floor plans or brochures on their website regarding this DBSS, and there is no price range indicated at all. Only the starting price is indicated. I find that this is quite annoying, and not very customer friendly. The moment I've realised this, I suspect something is amiss. Luckily, some kind-hearted person posted some of the floor plans at here, so I could at least confirmed my suspicions.

I will not repeat what I have written in my other posts on DBSS. You can refer to my Natura Loft post here, my Park Central post here, and my CityView post here. The CityView post includes some of the calculations I did to see if it fits into my affordability matrix.

DBSS @ Toa Payoh has been named The Peak, and is located at Toa Payoh Lor 1A. The balloting is already opened at their website here since 15 April 2009, and the pricing of the flats starts from $470psf onwards. The pricing and configuration are as follows:

3 room70 sqmfrom $355,000
Living Room w/ Planter
4 room91 sqmfrom $468,000
Living Room w/ Balcony and Planter
5 room110 sqm
117 sqm
from $539,000
Living Room w/ Balcony and Planter,
and Master Bedroom w/ Planter (or w/ Study)
Living Room w/ Balcony,
and Master Bedroom w/ Planter (or w/ Study)
Living Room w/ Balcony,
and Master Bedroom w/ Balcony (or w/ Study)

You can refer to the floor plans at the above link.

All units are fitted with inverter air-conditioners in the living/dining area and all bedrooms, built-in wardrobes, built-in kitchen cabinets with soft-closing features and a quality hood and hob. Even fine details such bathrooms with hot water provision and yard/kitchen equipped with swing-out clothes rack are well taken care of. Residents can enjoy peace of mind with the proximity card access security system fitted at all ground floor lift lobbies. According to the map by hdb here, it's about a 5 mins walk to Toa Payoh Central, if you take the distance from the end of the development, to the start of Toa Payoh Central. I would put 8 to 10mins as a better estimate.

Even though it's situated at Toa Payoh, one of my favorite places, I do not like this DBSS offering because:
  • The developer seems to only disclose the bare minimum information about the flats online. If you visit their website, they actually take the trouble to scan into PDF all the information relating to the purchase of the flat. But they choose to neglect to post the brochure containing the information and design of the flat in their website!

    To me at least, that means you do not treat the customers as a number 1 priority.

  • A lot of space is wasted by the balcony and planter. Using the example of the 4 room flat which is 91sqm. You have a balcony and planter that takes up most of your living room space, and don't forget the air-con ledge for your inverter air-con.

    In the end, you will end up with a house that is much smaller than 91sqm. A 90sqm 4 room HDB (excluding air-con ledge) is already quite small. Just imagine the size of this DBSS 4 room flat. That actually also means that the psf cost is much "higher", because there is so much space that cannot be utilised.

    I thought Natura Loft wasted quite a bit of space, but The Peak beats Natura Loft, at least from the floor plan perspective.

I'm quite disappointed that the developer choose to waste all the space by putting planters and balconies. You can opt to add in these extras, but you should make the flat bigger. The funny part is that even for a 70sqm 3 room flat, they've added in a planter. I can't imagine how small the 3 room flat will be. Some people may like the proximity card access security system, but I find it more of a nuisance though.

There are of course other plus points. This DBSS is after all very near Toa Payoh Central, the bus interchange and the mrt station. It's also quite near a number of schools like CHIJ. Location wise is perfect, but ... ...

Do you want location? Or do you want to suffer from claustrophobia? I find this development a disappointment. I've also just recently realised that Park Central also has balconies and planters. I guess that's the in thing for DBSS. What's this craze about balconies and planters?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mozart Oboe Concerto KV 314

The first piece that attracted me to the Oboe, Mozart Oboe Concerto KV 314. Somehow, I prefer the sound of the Oboe to the other wind instruments, and from what I've heard, it's also not an easy instrument to play on.

Below are the links to the 3 movements I've found in Youtube:

Movement 1: Allegro aperto

Movement 2: Adagio non troppo

Movement 3: Rondo: Allegretto

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Probably no elections until end 2010

A little more than a month ago, I was contemplating in a post here if there will be a general election (GE) at the end of this year. Since then, after all the "hints" I've see in the global economy, I have come to a conclusion that there will not be a GE end of this year. I see the next GE at maybe somewhere end of next year earliest, which is 2010.

Initially, I thought that a GE this year is almost certain. Our MM has pointed out that the current climate will persist for a minimum of 2 or 3 years. Either that or it will persist for more than 4 years. Our MM has also gave a dismal GDP growth prediction of -10% for this year. Furthermore, I have also spied improvement works being done in many estates. At that point in time, I really see the worse end of the prediction coming through.

However, there are a few indications that I've seen which points to a "NO GE" this year:
  1. The original global crisis came about due to the collapse of the housing market in the US. If anyone noticed, they would have seen recently that the fixed mortgage and ARM rates in US going down to below 5% (Before, it was above 6.x%). The rates has even went down to almost 4.5%.

    This would bring a welcome relief to many of the prime borrowers. This however does not point to a recovery, but instead I would say this is an indication that the market is finding a bottom.

    Everyone is worried that the toxic assets in all the major banks balance sheets will be further written down. The problem is still there, with all the record job losses. But I suspect in the coming months, the jobless rate will start to decrease. I do not see the US jobless rates going above 9%. In fact, I will not be surprised that the 2Q jobless rates go below 8%.

    In short, I find that the global economy is establishing a base, on which it can grow upon. Things seem to be slowly recovering after President Obama took over. This is not a time for conservatism.

  2. Singapore recently did a "portfolio reshuffle" where some key personnel shifted to other portfolios. From a corporate perspective, this will not happen if a GE is coming.

    It makes no sense that you will shift personnel around when a GE is around the corner.

  3. Our property and stock market have been showing signs of revival. I won't say that it has recovered, but to me, it's an indication that credit is really flowing again after the recent budget measures.

    Once credit is flowing, the economy will revive itself, from a business perspective. I also do not see that the Singapore banks are in any sort of trouble, which puzzles me on the valuation the market is giving to the 3 local banks.

    In short, Singapore economy seems to be reviving in the 2Q, and the budget measures seem to be working. Therefore, I would see that the economy would somehow find a footing and recover somewhat by next year or 2011.

Of course it's too early to say that we're well on the road to recovery. Many things could still go wrong. People are still worried for example, that GM may file for Chapter 11 for example. However, they should note that filing for Chapter 11, and folding is different. Lehman Brothers folded up.

Judging from my own personal indicators, I think that the economy is finding its footing, and that a GE at this point in time is of no use to any party. In fact, a GE at this time may throw a spanner in the recovery by diverting attention away from the real problems. I also do not see a second budget measure soon, unless things take a turn for the worse after the 2Q.

There's also disenchantment on the ground on the recent Lehman Brothers fiasco. Our own unemployment numbers to be released soon may also cause some areas of concern among all Singaporeans. In fact, I've seen some graffiti with some chosen words about a political party.

A recovery will not be immediate, for Singapore or globally. US is definitely saving more now for their future. I was so surprised last year when I saw the household savings rate for the US. Those countries with high saving rates will have to "earn their keep", so as to speak. This will lead to some social policies change, and mindset change. Products and services will also soon be customised more for Aseans.

This year is definitely a year of change, not only globally, but for Singapore too. However, I do not think that a election will happen this year, as I do not yet see a prolonged recession hitting us.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Definition of Success

I quote from George Sheehan:

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.

Everyone seems to have a different definition of success, but I find that this definition strikes me the most. Very often, parents try to enforce their own perception of the meaning of success. To me, I find it very puzzling. To be successful, do you need to be a doctor? A lawyer? An engineer?

You do not need to be all that to be successful. You can be a lawyer, but you're in the news because you run off with your client's money. Is that the definition of success?

Being successful is not all about money. Look at it in a more holistic view.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

MAS issued guidelines on fair dealing

Recently, MAS has issued guidelines on fair dealing. This came about 2 months after HKMA has issued their guidelines from the aftermath of the Lehman Brother's fiasco. I have a short post here on the measures by HKMA previously.

In summary, MAS has identified 5 fair dealing outcomes:
  1. Customers have confidence that they deal with financial institutions where fair dealing is central to the corporate culture.

  2. Financial institutions offer products and services that are suitable for their target customer segments.

  3. Financial institutions have competent representatives who provide customers with quality advice and appropriate recommendations.

  4. Customers receive clear, relevant and timely information to make informed financial decisions.

  5. Financial institutions handle customer complaints in an independent, effective and prompt manner.

According to the guidelines issued, MAS will take into account a financial institution’s ability or failure to observe the Guidelines in assessing whether it continues to be fit and proper to conduct regulated activities. Where the failings relate to obligations under the relevant legislation, MAS will take supervisory or enforcement action.

MAS will use inspections and visits to financial institutions, interviews with the Board and Senior Management, surveys of financial institutions, customer surveys and mystery shopping exercises to assess whether financial institutions are observing the Guidelines.

MAS has also indicated that the guidelines may be updated after the consultation paper.

My personal feeling is that they are generalizing the 5 outcomes to a very high level. From what I read of the 5 outcomes, they are basically saying that you better target your customers properly, and give quality and timely advice. If not, handle the complaints in a prompt manner. How the institutions handle the 5 outcomes is up to them.

What I do not like about the guidelines issued is that the supervisory or enforcement action is very vague. The penalties should be clearly spelled out, even if it's high-level. Jail term for e.g., or a penalty of x% of the related products sold. The relevant legislations related to these guidelines are also not spelled out. I think that it's a little too high level to be of any use. How are they going to enforce it?

I come from the old school of thought. You must catch the attention by emphasizing the penalties. Otherwise, nobody will even take a look at the guidelines. Anyway, I hope the next update to these guidelines will be clearer.

More information about the MAS paper can be found here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shortcuts to useful folders

The Run command in the Start menu is actually a shortcut to many useful folders. Just go to Start > Run and type the following to open the related folders:
  • desktop
    Links to the desktop folder that contains your files and shortcuts on the desktop

  • application data
    Links to the application data folder that contains some of your programs settings

  • sendto
    Links to the Send To folder which is what you see when you right-click on a file or folder.

  • recent
    Links to your Recent Documents

  • temp
    Links to your Windows Temporary folder

  • cookies
    Links to your Internet Explorer cookies

  • favorites
    Links to your Internet Explorer favorites

  • my documents
    Links to My Documents

Hope this helps...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Imperfections are what actually make someone perfect

This short video by MCYS pretty sums up about any relationship. Sometimes, it's pretty funny to think that we always remember (not in a nice way) all the imperfections very well, but somehow, we will miss all these when it's taken away. That's life I guess...

Enjoy the video. I did.

New Sengkang market centre rental at $500K per month!

Today, I read with "horror" about the new tender site awarded by HDB for the new Sengkang market and Food Centre. The "horror" portion? $500,100 rental per month!

I did a little digging and I've managed to find the list of bids submitted to HDB here. I cannot speak for the rest, but I seriously do not expect a high class Kopitiam in a neighbourhood food centre or market. If I'm looking for high class, I will go to Orchard Road or Vivocity, not Sengkang.

With such a high rental, the food/market stalls will most probably get a higher rental, which translates to higher selling prices for people living in the neighbourhood. I might have higher expectations but I thought that the range of prices of the final goods and services sold should also be taken into consideration, and it should be higher in priority.

If you look at the HDB link, there are a few other bids that hover around a certain pricing. Using an analogy, I believe that for those bids, the price of a plate of char siew rice will most probably be at around $3. For the winner, I think the plate of char siew rice would most probably be at $3.80 (Kopitiam pricing). The market stalls pricing, I shudder to think about it.

On the flip side, it's also a bit too early to jump to conclusions when nothing has been announced except for the final bid price. However, knowing that the winner is not a co-op, I do not hold out high hopes that the final selling prices will be affordable. It might be that HDB is trying to create a "Jurong Point" in Sengkang, to attract more families to setup their homes in that area. The final Sengkang market/food centre might also have a certain "theme" that draws a niche crowd. Maybe a seafood theme to fit the Punggol 21 plus theme? I guess we'll know in a few years time.

One thing I learned from all these years in Singapore is that things are mostly done for certain reasons, which might not be apparent. Wish the winner of the bid the best of luck. This is not really an ideal climate for high selling prices. I hope they know what they are doing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

OECD Tax Havens List

Updated 8 Apr 2009: Black List strike through. Countries agreed to conform to the standard

OECD has finally released the list of countries that comply with the internationally agreed tax standard, also otherwise known as the Tax Havens List as every country is only interested in the black list.

The internationally agreed tax standard, which was developed by the OECD in co-operation with non-OECD countries and which was endorsed by G20 Finance Ministers at their Berlin Meeting in 2004 and by the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters at its October 2008 Meeting, requires exchange of information on request in all tax matters for the administration and enforcement of domestic tax law without regard to a domestic tax interest requirement or bank secrecy for tax purposes. It also provides for extensive safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.

OECD has finally came out with rules on what is a internationally agreed tax standard. I think before this, there are no such concrete rules, which makes the white/black list quite controversial. Now countries will be scrambling to comply with the rules.

I went to do a little digging for the complete list. Seems like OECD has split it into a white list, grey list and black list.

White list contains the countries that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard.

Grey list contains the countries that are committed to the agreement, but has yet to substantially implemented it.

Black list contains the countries that have not yet committed to the agreement.

White List
Czech Republic
Isle of Man
New Zealand
Russian Federation
Slovak Republic
South Africa
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
US Virgin Islands

Grey List
List identified in year 2000, based on 1998 OECD report
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Cook Islands
Marshall Islands
Neth. Antilles
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
St Vincent & Grenadines
San Marino
Turks and Caicos Islands
Costa Rica *
Malaysia (Labuan) *
Philippines *
Uruguay *

Black List
Costa Rica
Malaysia (Labuan)


Some of the foot notes include:
  • Although China is in the white list, the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) are excluded. The SARS have committed to implement the internationally agreed tax standard. Translated, Hong Kong and Macau is on the grey list.

  • The Cayman Islands has enacted legislation that allows it to exchange information unilaterally and has identified 12 countries with which it is prepared to do so. This legislation is being reviewed by the OECD.

  • Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland withdrew their reservations to Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention. Belgium has already written to 48 countries to propose the conclusion of protocols to update Article 26 of their existing treaties. Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland announced that they have started to write to their treaty partners to indicate that they are now willing to enter into renegotiations of their treaties to include the new Article 26.

  • * indicates the countries moved from the black list to the grey list as they have agreed to conform to the standards.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thinking in terms of possibilities

I quote from Terry Josephson:

Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities

Most, if not all of us are guilty of this. I believe it's a mindset that most of us have. Whenever we're faced with a difficulty, we're always thinking in terms of why it cannot be done, and not in terms on how it can be achieved.

Defence mechanism? I guess this mindset has to be changed, slowly...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Double standards at work?

I happened to read a NYTimes article here with regards to someone resigning from A.I.G. As suspected, this A.I.G fiasco has gone way too far. I really think that some opposition parties just like to be in the news or something.

Using an analogy, there's a Division A within a Company. There are 2 departments, department A1 and department A2. A1 is making decent profits, but A2 lost a lot of money, and the company has to borrow a lot of money to keep itself afloat.

In this case, why the people from department A1 are not able to get any form of bonus? Their department is doing well, and the losses from A2 has nothing to do with them. The bonus most likely come from their own department A1 profits. So does that mean that since the whole division is losing money, then department A1 cannot get their rewards?

This reminds me of the state of economy in that same country. One sector is doing very badly, causing a global economy collapse. The rest of the people not from that sector refuse to help them, saying that they should collapse instead, and that they should not use their money to help them.

See the similarities? At one side, you're saying that you can't pay bonuses since the whole company in trouble, and at the other side, you're saying that the sector fallout has nothing to do with the main street people, and that their money should not be used to finance their survival.

Double standards at work?
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