We’ve summarised the 15 key stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing, so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
Business & Economics
- The Bank of England forecast a more positive short-term outlook for the UK economy, but emphasised that it would not cut its support. The Monetary Policy Committee also unanimously voted to maintain the base rate at 0.1%.
- The UK’s public finances worsened in February as public spending increased while tax income decreased. The government had to borrow £19.1 billion, the highest February figure since 1993. However, net borrowing increased to an estimated £278.8 billion, which is £76 billion lower than the £355 billion forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
- The Federal Reserve revised its predictions for the US economy, projecting that output will surge by 6.5% this year. Unemployment is forecast to fall to 4.5% and inflation is expected to rise to 2.2%. This revision follows the signing of a $1.8 trillion stimulus package last week.
- Russia’s central bank has raised its interest rates for the first time in more than two years from a record low 4.25% to 4.5%, with plans for further rises later on in the year. The rate hike was in response to an increase in inflation, which hit 5.8% this month.
- Uber will reclassify its UK drivers as workers, entitling them to minimum wage and a company pension scheme. This development comes after a Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers were employees of the firm rather than self-employed contractors.
- The UK government has drawn up a contingency plan to run Liberty Steel, Britain’s third-largest steel company, using public money due to worries over its current owner GFG Alliance’s ability to continue operations. GFG Alliance mainly sourced its funding from Greensill Capital, which filed for insolvency protection earlier this month.
- The UK government revealed a White Paper that would reform the auditing sector. Large companies will not be allowed to pay out divides and executive bonuses if the businesses cannot cover the payments from their cash reserves. This move is in response to a series of scandals at UK companies such as Carillion, BHS, and Patisserie Valerie.
- John Magufuli, the former president of Tanzania, has died at the age of 61 after Covid rumours. Mr Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours had been circulating about his health. Mr Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.
- The European commission threatened to block vaccine exports to countries including the UK. The Defence Secretary of the UK, Ben Wallace, urged European leaders to not “indulge in rhetoric” and “act like grown ups”.
- A former Bavarian justice minister has become the latest German conservative politician to quit amid allegations of corruption. Alfred Sauter — a lawmaker in the regional parliament and a senior member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) — resigned from all political positions he previously held.
- A senior aide to former Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat was charged with money laundering, corruption and fraud. Keith Schembri, Muscat’s former chief of staff, appeared in court alongside 11 others charged with similar offenses. He pleaded not guilty but was denied bail.
- The European Commission is urging Turkey to return to an international treaty aimed at combatting violence against women after Ankara pulled out of the pact. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday issued a decree annulling his country’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe accord named for the city where it was forged. The decision triggered protests in several Turkish cities.
- On Saturday 20th March, a record breaking total of 844,285 combined first and second doses were given to the general public. More than 27.6 million people in the UK- more than half of the adult population- has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
- The government will be in clear breach of the law and exposed to a judicial review if it presses ahead with a multi billion-pound cut in the UK’s foreign aid programme, according to legal advice given to Tory backbenchers.
- Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has again lashed out at coronavirus vaccines, saying that Pfizer’s shot could turn people into crocodiles, among other bizarre claims. During the outlandish rant on Thursday, Mr Bolsonaro suggested that the vaccine could also lead to women growing facial hair and men speaking with effeminate voices.
Written by John Chang and Rohan Battula