SMEBiz Briefs

Here comes wet La Nina

As the effects of the most severe El Nino in almost 20 years still reverberate globally, the world is already preparing for La Nina.

Indonesia is set to distribute water pumps to farmers and is assessing its rice stockpiles in anticipation of the weather event expected in October, Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman said.

La Nina, sometimes thought of as El Nino’s opposite, typically brings more rainfall to the region, threatening crops with flooding and delaying harvests. Australia says El Nino has peaked and there’s a chance of its counterpart occurring in the second half of the year.

El Nino hampered cocoa crops in Ivory Coast, curbed the monsoon in India and forced the Philippines to import more rice. Indonesia deployed planes last year for artificial rain to help alleviate drought conditions that restricted palm oil output and exacerbated forest fires that engulfed the region in haze.

“We’ll anticipate early, like we did on drought,” Sulaiman said.

Indonesia’s palm oil output may stagnate or fall about 3% this year, according to Bayu Krisnamurthi, the head of the government-appointed Indonesia Estate Crop Fund for Palmoil. Supply concerns helped palm oil cap its best year since 2010, while sugar posted its first annual gain in five years.

El Nino is a warming in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, while La Nina is a cooling of the waters. Each can impact agricultural markets as farmers contend with too much or too little rain.

The previous La Nina began in 2010 and endured into 2012. Conditions typically last between nine and 12 months, while some episodes may persist for as long as two years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Openness more important than pay

Openness and recognition at work has out-stripped monetary rewards, ranking as the highest motivator for employees in worldwide organisations regardless of age, industry or location, according to a survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Although half of the respondents in East Asia, the Pacific and Africa conceded that performance-related pay schemes could help foster best performance, up to 70% agreed, or strongly agreed, that people may exaggerate or otherwise falsify their performance measures to meet their targets.

In its latest survey titled “Culture and Channelling Corporate Behaviour”, ACCA said 74% of respondents argued that the creation of an environment where people can comfortably discuss any concerns was the most effective way of promoting ethics in an organisation.

“This is supported by calls for unethical conduct to be punished (58%) and to reward ethical behaviour (55%) as effective means of fostering ethical conduct in the workplace,” it said.

There were also calls for upper management to reinforce the idea of walking the talk and not allowing double standards, it added.

The survey involved almost 2,000 ACCA finance professionals from all over the world.

Right move to join TPPA early: Miti

Malaysia may not get a first-mover advantage if it were to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) later, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.

He said Malaysia managed to protect preferences for Bumiputera, small businesses and the halal industry.

Responding to Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen’s statement that a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)’s analysis showed the country’s GDP and exports would only grow an extra 0.22% at most under the TPPA and there would be a risk of a 30% dip in balance of trade, Mustapa said Malaysia’s trade would still be in surplus.

“PWC report shows that there would be benefits and challenges, but overall, the pact gives more benefits than challenges.” A special parliamentary session to decide on Malaysia’s participation in the TPPA is scheduled for Jan 26 and 27, followed by a special session of the Senate on Jan 28.

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