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Daily Archives: November 20, 2008



by Natalie Leung

The  amount  of  government  surplus in 2009 is estimated to shrink from 20 billion patacas in 2008, to about 740 million  patacas  as  attributed  by  the global  economic  environment  and  the largest budget ever set out for public construction  projects  in  a  bid  to  boost  employment opportunities for local people.

Secretary  for  Economy  and  Finance, Francis  Tam  Pak  Yuen,  presented  the draft of the budget plan for the 2009 fiscal year at the Legislative Assembly yesterday which will then be passed on to one of the standing committees for deliberation. According  to  the  bill  the  total  revenue of  the  SAR  government  in  2009  will  be about 44.714 billion patacas, which comprises the “major source of revenue” from  the gaming tax estimated at 29.39 billion patacas. The  Secretary  said  the  gaming  tax  was calculated based on the 6.8 billion pataca monthly gross gaming receipts estimated in 2009. Meanwhile,  the  total  expenditure  next year will be about 43.975 billion patacas.  Of which,  the budget  for  investment  and development  plan  (PIDDA)  accounts  for 10.289 billion patacas, a surge of 2.12 billion  patacas  or  25.3 percent  from  2008 which  makes  it  the  largest  amount  ever planned for this category. Tam  said  the  investment  and  development plan will include a number of large scale public housing constructions such as in Taipa  lot TN27 at 550 million patacas, Ilha Verde  at 480 million patacas, Mong Ha at 230 million patacas as well as a new prison at some 400 million patacas. At  the same  time, a string of  tax allowance  measures  adopted  this  year  will continue  in  2009  which  will  reduce  the amount  of  government  revenue  received by nearly 1.1 billion patacas. The  measures  include  exemption  of  housing  tax  for 3,500 patacas,  lifting  the  allowances  of  occupational  tax  and  supplementary  income  tax  respectively  from  95,000  patacas  to  120,000  patacas  and  from 32,000 patacas to 200,000 patacas.

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Trial over Politkovskaya murder closed to public

The trial of four men charged in connection with the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya will be closed to the public, the judge ruled yesterday, to the fury of her family and lawyers.
"This trial will continue as a closed trial," said Judge Yevgeny Zubov, who is presiding over the case in a Moscow military court.
"This is considering the security of the participants in the trial, that of their relatives and their loved ones," he said.
Zubov's decision came after his ruling on the first day of the trial on Monday, when he said the proceedings would be open but warned he had the right to close them later.
The family and lawyers of the slain journalist, who was deeply critical of the Kremlin's actions in war-torn Chechnya, immediately lashed out at the decision.
"I am very disappointed," a lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, Karinna Moskalenko, told reporters.
"I think this trial should have been open, not only because all trials should be, but because she was a public figure and the public should know the circumstances of her killing," Moskalenko said.
The murder victim's son, Ilya Politkovsky, said: "Of course we do not like the closed trial…. There is nothing wrong with having journalists there."
A lawyer for one of the defendants also criticised the decision, alleging that prosecutors who had pushed for a closed trial were seeking to hide information from the public.
"They wanted to close the trial from the beginning. They did not want the public to know," said Murad Musayev, who represents Dzhabrail Makhmudov, a Chechen man accused of following Politkovskaya in the weeks before her killing.
None of the defendants are charged with actually pulling the trigger and authorities have failed to identify who ordered the apparent contract murder.
Makhmudov and his brother Ibragim are on trial along with Pavel Ryaguzov, a former security services officer accused of passing Politkovskaya's address to the killers, and former police investigator Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.
The Chechen siblings are brothers of Rustam Makhmudov, the man said by investigators to have actually shot Politkovskaya in the stairwell of her apartment building on October 7, 2006.
Rustam Makhmudov has never been found and is said by investigators to have fled the country.
Politkovskaya, aged 48 when she died, was a writer of books and articles that fiercely criticised then-president Vladimir Putin, notably for abuses committed by Russian forces in Chechnya.
Her killing sparked outrage internationally and among opposition groups in Russia, with some critics blaming the Russian leadership for the crime.