Virgin Islands to seek debts
The US Virgin Islands has said it is cracking down on those who owe the US territory US$430 million in unpaid taxes. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp on Wednesday said that he is creating a new task force charged with recuperating at least 15 percent of what is owed by September. He said the money owed includes property, income and hotel occupancy taxes. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker said people would be prosecuted with no prior warning. The territory is in the middle of an economic slump and faces an unemployment rate of 11 percent.
Data credibility unit formed
The National Bureau of Statistics has set up a new supervisory arm to ensure the authenticity of its data. The new enforcement team was formed to meet demands from the central government to improve data quality, according to a statement published on the bureau’s Web site yesterday. The accuracy of the nation’s statistics has been questioned, as readings such as GDP growth or jobless rates showed uncanny stability, while provincial officials have had an incentive to inflate growth numbers to enhance their careers. Liaoning Province earlier this year admitted that it faked fiscal data from 2011 to 2014.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Nestle sales miss forecasts
Swiss giant Nestle SA yesterday reported anemic sales growth as Asian market strength was offset by weak consumer spending in the Americas. First-quarter sales rose 0.4 percent to 21 billion Swiss francs (US$21.1 billion), slightly below analyst expectations of 21.3 billion francs compiled by financial news agency AWP. However, organic sales growth, which excludes exchange rate factors as well as acquisitions and spin-offs, came in better than expected at 2.3 percent against an analysts’ call of 2.1 percent. Unfavorable exchange rates weighed on sales growth with 0.4 points and asset sales with 1.5 points.
Unilever sales rise 6.1%
Anglo-Dutch food and consumer products giant Unilever PLC yesterday reported rising sales and boosted its shareholder dividend in its first earnings update since seeing off a takeover bid by Kraft Heinz Co. Sales rose 6.1 percent in the three months to last month to 13.3 billion euros (US$14.3 billion), partly attributable to favorable exchange rate factors, and better than analysts’ expectations. The company also announced a 12 percent hike in its dividend for the quarter, “reflecting the confidence in our outlook,” it said in a statement.
Alibaba launches LiveUp
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) has created a loyalty program for online shoppers in Singapore that it might expand to other markets, teaming up with Uber Technologies Inc and Netflix Inc to lure customers. It is the first time Uber and Netflix have jointly created an online rewards program, said Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Lazada Group SA, the Singapore-based e-commerce operator Alibaba acquired for US$1 billion last year. The trio’s LiveUp program started yesterday and links their services, from UberEats and Netflix to online grocer RedMart and Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace. A mobile app is to be rolled out in the second half of this year.