However, the company is currently locked in heated negotiations with unions about the future structure of the scheme. Royal Mail estimates that it will have exhausted its surplus by next year. It plans to close the defined benefit scheme to future accrual from 31 March 2018, but its restructuring plans have been opposed by unions.Hogg was earlier this month elected as the new chair of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s defined benefit council.At National Grid, Hogg will work with CIO Rob Schreur, who has overseen the scheme since joining in 2015 from Philips Pensioenfonds in the Netherlands. The company sold its in-house pension scheme asset manager, Aerion, to Legal & General Investment Management in the same year.National Grid declined to comment. Royal Mail Pension Plan chief executive Chris Hogg is to leave the defined benefit scheme, IPE has learned.He is set to take over as chief executive of the £16.6bn (€18.2bn) National Grid UK Pension Scheme, according to sources familiar with the situation.Hogg joined the £9.8bn Royal Mail scheme in 2009 as head of funding, overseeing the transition from state ownership to privatisation. This involved the government taking on roughly £40bn of liabilities and £28bn of assets in 2012.Following the transfer, and with Hogg as CEO, the scheme retained responsibility for benefits accrued after 31 March 2012. It held £9.8bn in assets at the end of March this year, putting it in surplus – its funding ratio was the best in the FTSE 100 at the end of June, according to consultancy LCP.
Restrictions on the movement of people, quarantining of communities and positive response to the frequent washing of hands and avoiding infested dead bodies have helped to reduce the infection rate of the Ebola virus throughout Liberia, according to Mr. James Dorbor Jallah, Deputy Incident Manager for support services at the Incident Management System.Moreover as the Dry Season approaches in Liberia, he said, intense heat and sunlight will contribute to Liberia’s effort to eradicate the disease. The Ebola Virus has been described as ‘fragile’ by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, and is easily destroyed by heat and sunlight.The Incident Management System, (IMS) is the body that has replaced the National Ebola Taskforce set up by the Liberian government earlier in the Ebola fight, headed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Mr. Jallah told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview in Monrovia Sunday that despite the optimism, “We should remember that we are still fighting the Ebola Virus disease and, therefore, there is no need for celebration.” Instead, he emphatically stated that the Liberian public should continue to take all safety measures, including regular hand washing, refraining from touching infected persons or dead bodies, avoiding all cultural and traditional practices that could spread the disease and avoiding movement from one area to another. According to Mr. Jallah, coordinated information reaching his office from the various Ebola Treatment Units, (ETUs), indicates that across the country, “there are less than 400 people who are in treatment.” “Therefore,” Jallah said, “there are more than 300 ETUs that are empty, which means they are without people who are being treated for the virus.” The latest report has also made it clear that decisions and recommendations approved by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and implemented by the Liberian government have worked to reduce increased infection from the insidious disease, Mr. Jallah said. “All of us should continue with the measures outlined in this fight,” he said, “because the less than 400 people being treated in the various ETUs is still a high number,” he noted. With particular reference to the six hardest hit counties of Montserrado, Bomi, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Margibi, Jallah said, “Lofa County, particularly Foya and Barkedu, have registered less than ten persons in treatment in the last couple of weeks.” At the peak of its infection, Jallah said, nearly eighty people were admitted at the ETU in Foya, with most of the cases coming from Quarduboni. “The infection reduced tremendously when the communities in Lofa and citizens from areas in Monrovia, including religious leaders, got involved,” Jallah disclosed. “They implemented the measures issued by government and that has brought relief,” he said. Jallah said, “Currently, Foya has reported no new cases and the 120 bed ETU is empty.” While these reports show a success story, the World Health Organization, (WHO) has indicated that there could be 10,000 infections weekly in the coming weeks in Liberia. But with the dry season now in Liberia, as mentioned earlier, nature could work to support the fight against Ebola, according to health officials. Since there are “sparks” of cases now and then, according to Jallah, “Liberia is still in the woods, meaning the country is not yet out of danger. However, recent reports on the decline in the use of the ETUs do not support the WHO’s dire prediction. Jallah, whose division coordinates and ensures the effective provision of non-medical support to the Incident Management System, (IMS), said the re-organization of the National Ebola Task Force, headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is effective in its fight against the disease. He insisted that what could be considered as a success story came about and would continue if Liberians and residents take the following measures daily: Avoid touching sick or dead persons; Avoid movement from one community to another, particularly for people who may have been exposed to the virus and If one gets exposed to the virus, observe the 21-day quarantine. Other measures are: Avoid contact with sick, symptomatic, or dead person’s saliva, excretion, vomit, urine, semen, etc.; Wash your hands regularly and Wash your hands when entering AND leaving buildings, since it is possible for an infected person to leave a virus on surfaces and other areas which people find easy to touch, such as door handles and stair rails. Meanwhile Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, Incident Manager of the Incident Management System of the Ebola Response, corroborated Mr. Jallah’s report yesterday in a phone interview and added that since October 19, there have been 329 patients in ETUs with 725 bed capacity across the country. “While we are encouraged by such a prospect, it does not mean we are free from the disease,” Nyenswah said. “It is too early to determine why there are not many cases and we are investigating.” Nyenswah said there are possibilities that “We have Ebola infected individuals in our various communities,” stressing on the need to follow measures outlined by the Liberian government in its fight against the disease. In addition a source at the Foya Ebola Treatment Unit, (ETU), confirmed to the Daily Observer yesterday in a telephone interview that “in the last two and half weeks, there have been no new cases.” This corroborates information from the nerve center in Monrovia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Home Builders Remain Optimistic Despite Market Stumbles in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Market Studies, News October 28, 2015 649 Views Share Housing Market National Association of Home Builders New Home Sales 2015-10-28 Staff Writer New home sales declines and a weak jobs report in September may have some a bit skeptical about the future of the housing market, but despite September’s stumbles, home builders maintain their market confidence.The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Eye on the Economy biweekly survey of their economic and housing analysis by Chief Economist David Crowe showed new home sales contracts fell 11.5 percent from 529,000 in August to 468,000 in September and job numbers were weak. However, home builders are exuding unwavering confidence in the market.Homebuilders’ confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose in October, returning to a level not seen since the end of the housing boom in 2005.According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), builder confidence increased three points to 64 in October. Any value over 50 means builders see more improvement in the housing market than damage.NAHB Chairman and a home builder from Blue Springs, Missouri Tom Woods noted that the single-family housing market is “making lasting gains as more serious buyers come forward” as builder confidence has floated above the 60s since June.“With October’s three-point uptick, builder confidence has been holding steady or increasing for five straight months, ” Crowe said. “This upward momentum shows that our industry is strengthening at a gradual but consistent pace. With firm job creation, economic growth and the release of pent-up demand, we expect housing to keep moving forward as we start to close out 2015.”Although housing starts rose 6.5 percent to an eight-year high of 1.206 million units in September, the increase was all in the multifamily sector, according a report from the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD.The report showed that in September, single-family housing starts reached a rate of 740,000, up 0.3 percent from the revised August figure of 738,000.Crowe noted that the rise in starts “provide a clearer picture of the steady increase in housing construction that we have been experiencing for several years.”National Association of Federal Credit Unions Chief Economist Curt Long said that the housing starts is “encouraging, but reconfirms that much of the recent strength in the market is focused in the multifamily segment. This speaks to the inability of many potential borrowers to afford to purchase housing due to high prices, steep down payment requirements and tight inventory.”The NAHB reported that worker access is a supply headwind that is pushing against sector growth as the number of jobs in home building and remodeling increased by only 3,900 positions on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Industry hiring has also slowed in 2015, with the average monthly employment gain at just over 5,500 over the last six months, but as hiring has slowed, construction jobs rose.