Resourceful Dnirpo near end of marathon journey

Dnipro, who have never won the Ukrainian league but were twice winners of the old Soviet league, have overcome a limited budget and the disadvantage of staging home games in Kiev due to Dnipropetrovsk’s proximity to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.


Although everyone loves an underdog, Dnipro’s pragmatic style, based on a defence built around Brazilian Douglas and ever-present goalkeeper Denys Boyko, means they are likely to have won grudging respect rather than joyful admiration.

Their performance in last Thursday’s first leg was typical as they set out to frustrate Napoli, clung on grimly in the second half after falling behind and then snatched a late equaliser against the run of play.

According to UEFA statistics, they have committed 226 fouls and suffered 214 in the competition, more than anyone else in both categories, and also top the yellow card charts with 45 received.

They have mustered only 14 goals and have made a habit of muddling through ever since they began by losing 2-0 on aggregate to FC Copenhagen in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

That defeat allowed them to qualify for the Europa League playoff round where they beat Hajduk Split 2-1 on aggregate.

After that, they snatched a second-placed finish in Group F by beating St Etienne 1-0 at home in their final game to leapfrog both the French side and Qarabag, having managed four goals and conceded five in their six matches.

A sudden goal flurry saw them beat Olympiakos 4-2 on aggregate in the round of 32, before they beat Ajax on away goals and Club Bruges 1-0 on aggregate in the last eight.

This under coach Myron Markevych, who briefly coached Ukraine in 2010 and has earned a reputation for attacking football during a lengthy stint at Metalist Kharkiv.

On the other hand, Napoli, UEFA Cup winners in 1989, are the tournament’s topscorers and will be looking to repeat their impressive quarter-final win at VfL Wolfsburg.

“It will be tough, it will be difficult but we are confident that if we create chances we will score goals,” said coach Rafael Benitez. “We won 4-1 against Wolfsburg away so I think we can do the same.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

$10B a year to help with childcare fees

The federal government will spend an extra $3.


2 billion on childcare subsidies over the next four years,Tuesday’s budget confirmed.

This is on top of the $7 billion a year – and rising – existing price tag for subsidising fees.

Parents will get a single, streamlined payment to help cover childcare costs, including after-school care, once the new system comes fully into effect from July 2017.

The government says the new system addresses long-held frustrations parents have navigating existing subsidy schemes.

How much they receive depends on household income and how many hours parents work each fortnight.

The subsidy will be paid directly to childcare centres.

Most families with both parents working will get more taxpayer-funded help than they do now.

“There’s 165,000 parents that want to work more but haven’t got the affordable or accessible or flexible child care that would help them,” Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

The childcare rebate and benefit and other payments under the existing system will continue until mid-2017.

The government plans to contact all families using child care soon to explain what new support will be available to them.

It hopes the increase in funding to help pay fees will lead to an increase in places.

To fund the new subsidies, the government wants stalled cuts to family tax benefits from last year’s budget to clear the Senate.\

Parents who hire nannies can also apply for taxpayer support in a $246 million trial running throughout 2016 and 2017.

The trial, aimed especially at shift workers and those in regional areas, will be evaluated during 2017 and if it meets its aim of allowing parents to work more the subsidies will be retained.

There’s also an $869 million “childcare safety net” to cover extra care costs for at-risk children, those in disadvantaged communities and kids with additional needs.

The national quality framework, which mandates qualifications and numbers of workers, will be kept with $61 million of funding set aside for the next three years.

For children not quite at school yet, the federal government will give states and territories an extra $843 million for another two years of a program that guarantees 15 hours a week of preschool to four-year-olds.


* $3.2 billion extra to subsidise childcare fees

* Payment levels depend on parental income and how much they work

* $156 million for further fee subsidies for at-risk children

* $304 million to increase access to child care in disadvantaged communities

* $409 million to help families whose kids have additional needs such as disabilities

* $843 million to guarantee four-year-olds a preschools spot for 2016 and 2017

* National quality framework extended for extra three years at cost of $61.1 million

Budget declares war on tax avoidance

Tougher laws, a new crime fighting taskforce, larger fines and shaming cheats were all announced as part of the government’s strategy in Tuesday’s budget.


However the government was unable to say how much money it expected to raise from the 30 unnamed multi-national companies it says its new anti-avoidance law is targeting.

The Australian Tax Office has been given $11.3 million to enforce the new standards around transfer pricing – selling goods to a related entity to minimise tax – that the likes of BHP Billiton, Apple and Google have been accused of doing.

The new legislation outlaws what the government says are contrived company structures in which Australian sales are booked overseas and subject to no or low global tax.

Those caught doing so will have to pay back the tax, plus 100 per cent of the unpaid tax again as a fine, plus interest.

Multinational tax avoidance by tech and mining companies was the subject of recent heated Senate hearings, in which company executives were publicly grilled about their offshore arrangements.

BHP was forced to disclose that the ATO had so far ordered it to pay $522 million in taxes and fines related to its marketing hub in Singapore, which is regarded as a tax haven.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said in his budget speech that many multinationals did have and were aggressively minimising their tax.

“What that means, is that families and small businesses are forced to carry more than their fair share of the tax burden,” he said.

“Under this new law, when we catch companies cheating, they will have to pay back double what they owe plus interest.”:

Mr Hockey said the government was also working with business and the board of taxation to develop a voluntary code that highlights companies that pay their fair share of tax and publicly disclose it – and those that don’t.

The action is aimed at enhancing public confidence in the tax system.

The government said it expects to raise $419.7 million over four years through its Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, that will target tax evasion, along with other financial crimes and the black economy.

The latter will also be tackled by a three-year extension of the GST compliance program and is expected to raise $1.8 billion.

It expects to collect $350 million from the new “Netflix tax”, which closes loophole and applies GST to foreign businesses selling digital products, such as downloaded movies, games and e-books and maybe Airbnb, Uber and Netflix.

Outlook bleak for iron ore

The industry drove nearly half of Australia’s economic growth in the past decade but there is unlikely to be a reversal in the near term to this year’s shock price plunge that has ripped $90 billion out of revenue forecasts, according to the federal budget papers.


Given that China buys 80 per cent of Australia’s iron ore and the former’s housing market is substantially oversupplied, a significant recovery is not expected soon.

The fall in the price of Australia’s most valuable export was described in the budget papers as the most significant development since last May given its sensitivity to the price, with forecasts for 2015/16 down to $US48 a tonne from $US96.

“The continued weakness in China’s housing sector is expected to weigh on China’s demand for iron ore in the near term,” the budget papers said.

Yet at a time when demand was falling, Australia alone would add 50 million tonnes of exports this year with Brazil to add another 90 million tonnes by mid 2016.

Iron ore exports had doubled in the past five years and would rise another eight per cent this year to 770 million tonnes, with Australia the world’s biggest exporter and representing one third of global production.

Those expansions in supply have led to a war of words within the industry and with politicians, with Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew Forrest accusing BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto of damaging the economy.

The price falls and weaker-than-expected recovery in the global economy in the past year had presented Australia with difficult challenges, Treasurer Joe Hockey said.

The nation’s terms of trade – export prices compared with import prices – suffered the largest fall in half a century, contributing to a significant fall in tax receipts.

“Through careful planning we are successfully navigating the difficult transition from a mining investment boom, to one of broader-based growth across our economy,” Mr Hockey said.

The budget papers talked up the significant investments in liquefied natural gas making a strong contribution to exports and Australia overtaking Qatar as the largest exporter.

But mining investments were expected to decline further by 25.5 per cent in 2015/16 and 30.5 per cent in 2016/17, reducing GDP growth by four percentage points.

New mining discoveries were at their lowest level in a decade, which does not augur well for Australia when there is another mining boom, the Association of Mining and Exploration warned in its budget submission.

Individuals to do tax lifting

Wondering who’s going to be doing the heavy lifting in the effort to get the budget deficit down?

You, that’s who.


Most of improvement in the budget deficit over the five years covered by the forecasts in the budget papers is coming from increased revenue.

And most of the increase in revenue will come from individuals, through higher income, fringe benefits and superannuation taxes, and the GST.

The budget brought down by Joe Hockey on Tuesday predicted the budget deficit would fall from $48.4 billion in 2013/14, the latest completed year, to $6.9 billion five years later in 2018/19.

As a percentage of gross domestic product, a more meaningful measure, the narrowing of the deficit is more impressive, from 3.1 per cent to just 0.4 per cent of GDP.

Spending will do some of the work, falling from 25.7 per cent of GDP to 25.3 per cent, a reduction of 0.4 percentage points.

But revenue will grow from 22.8 per cent of GDP to 25.2 per cent, a rise of 2.4 percentage points.

In other words, increased receipts will do six times as much heavy lifting as reduced spending.

And within the increased receipts – something that can be teased out of the budget papers with a bit of number-crunching – it’s households doing the heavy lifting.

The budget figures imply income tax paid by individuals will rise from 10.3 per cent of GDP in 2013/14 to 12.1 per cent in 2018/19.

Add in taxes on superannuation, the GST and fringe benefits tax (effectively paid by individuals), and the proportion of tax paid by households rises from 14.0 to 16.3 per cent of GDP over the five years.

In contrast, company taxes rise only slightly, from 4.3 to 4.5 per cent of GDP.

Add in other taxes paid by companies – petroleum and minerals resource rent taxes, and the now-defunct carbon tax – and the proportion actually falls over the five years, from 4.6 per cent of GDP in 2013/14 to 4.5 per cent in 2018/19.

Give yourself a pat on the back.

You deserve it.