Top Stories

May 20, 2013


M&S under fire for ‘Amazon like’ tax scheme

Mark & Spencer (M&S) has become the latest in a string of UK companies to face criticism from tax campaigners over the way it structures its online sales to Europe, with one describing its sales operation as similar to that of the internet retail giant Amazon. The British retailer has been expanding its online operations to several countries across Europe. Internal documents have shown that orders made through the site by customers from France, Germany, Ireland or other countries are shipped from M&S's UK warehouses, but the transactions are all made with, and charged to, Marks & Spencer (Ireland) Limited, a subsidiary located in the Republic of Ireland, which has the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe, at 12.5 percent. (Guardian)


Green Investment Bank makes £5m biomass commitment

A Green Investment Bank-backed fund has injected £10m into a project to replace inefficient heating systems with biomass boilers. The Green Investment Bank (GIB) announced that it has committed £4.9m to an Equitix managed fund, called Energy Saving Investments, that was set up to manage small-scale non-domestic energy efficiency projects. The deal will mobilise a further £5.1m of investment from the Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF). Both public and private sector organisations can apply for funding to support the switch from conventional to biomass boilers, which according to the GIB can help properties save up to 30 percent on their energy bills. (Business Green)


Development underway for first transgenic sugarcane plantation

The National Genetically Modified Product Biosafety Commission, Indonesia, has approved the first genetically-altered sugarcane, paving the way for the development of commercial production of transgenic sugarcane. Genetically modified crops are designed by scientists for higher yields and resistance to drought, insects and herbicides. The idea has, however, generated controversy worldwide. Scientists who view biotech crops with caution have linked the consumption of biotech crops with illnesses, such as cancer. Environmentalists also regard genetically-altered crops as tampering too much with nature. Conversely, others say that the crops use less pesticide and land, thus benefiting the environment. (Jakarta Post)

Supply Chain

BT suppliers cut carbon footprint

An initiative within British Telecom’s supply chain has helped the company’s suppliers reduce their carbon footprint by 30,238 tonnes within its first year. The Better Future Supplier Forum (BFSF) was set up in April 2012 to promote best practice in sustainability within the supply chain. As part of the forum suppliers are assessed, trained and awarded gold, silver or bronze status according to their performance against an initial baseline score. One of BT’s suppliers of electronic devices, SGW Global, who took part in the first year pilot, was awarded a silver status awards for reducing the carbon footprints of its products. BT technical experts worked with SGW Global to redesign one of its products, reducing its overall carbon footprint by more than 30 percent. (Supply Management)

Policy & Research

Private sector should invest more in natural disaster risk reduction

The United Nations warned that economic losses from disasters have spun out of control and called on the world’s business community to incorporate disaster risk management into their investment strategies to avoid further losses. Entitled Creating Shared Value: the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction, the report, which carried out reviews of disaster losses in 56 countries, found that direct losses in this century alone amount to some $2.5 trillion. The report stressed that prevailing business models in urban development, agribusiness, and coastal tourism – three key investment sectors – continue to drive disaster risk, and calls for partnerships between the government and private sector to put in place and improve crisis management strategies. (Thailand Business News)