President Xi to visit heart of EU

Chinese President Xi Jinping would make his first visit to EU headquarters in Brussels on March 31 as part of his trip to several EU countries, the EU said yesterday. Xi would be hosted by European Council president Hermann van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. On April 1, Xi would make a speech on EU-Chinese relations at the College of Europe in the medieval city of Bruges, where future EU civil servants are trained. He would also visit Germany, France and the Netherlands. China and the EU are major trading partners but ties have been strained at times by dumping disputes over some Chinese imports and by EU criticism of Beijing’s human rights record. – Sapa-AFP


Obama to help with overtime

President Barack Obama would direct the US Labor Department to strengthen overtime pay protections for millions of workers, a White House official has said. The directive is meant to help salaried workers who may be expected to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay, such as fast food shift supervisors and convenience store managers. For example, the department could raise the pay threshold for workers covered by overtime rules. At present, salaried workers who make more than $455 (R4 900) a week are exempt from overtime. It is the latest move in Obama’s self-described “year of action”, a series of economy-focused executive decisions that do not require congressional approval. – Sapa-AP


Prices rise by 14% a year

Ghana’s annual consumer inflation rose to a fresh three-year high of 14 percent last month, up from 13.8 percent in January, the statistics office said yesterday. The impact of a rise in fuel prices and transport and dairy costs drove the increase, government statistician Philomena Nyarko said, adding that the rate was the highest since March 2010. “The main price drivers were kerosene and transport costs in the non-food category, while cheese, milk, eggs and alcohol led the pack in the food group,” she said. Ghana has registered strong growth in the past few years but the government has missed a series of fiscal targets in the past year. The International Monetary Fund said this month the economy grew 5.5 percent last year, less than the 8 percent targeted by the government. – Reuters


G4S counts cost of clean-up act

Shares in British-based security company G4S, which agreed to a financial settlement with the UK government after overcharging for tagging criminals last year, fell yesterday after it reported a loss on one-time costs to clean up its act and strengthen operations. Shares in the company dropped as much as 7.8 percent, the steepest intraday decline since May 7 last year, and at 12.41pm in London they were still down 7.1 percent down on the day at £2.28 (R41). Earnings for the year were hit by a £386 million charge that included the costs of restructuring its European businesses and reviewing 163 contracts, including electronic monitoring, G4S said yesterday. – Bloomberg