Sunday, February 24, 2019

small scale business

small scale business

President instructs to reduce registration fee on small-scale businesses -

Posted: 18 Feb 2019 04:00 AM PST

President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed to reduce the levy imposed on the registration of small-scale businesses in order to uplift small-scale and mid-sized businesses.

He has further pointed out the importance of implementing the 'Gramashakthi People's Movement' focusing on low-income people in urban areas.

Furthermore, the upcoming week has been named as the 'Gramashakthi National Week' in order to accelerate the disbursement of benefits of 'Gramashakthi People's Movement'.

The President made these remarks addressing the meeting of the project of the 'Gramashakthi People's Movement' Western Provincial Planning Committee today (18) in Henegama, Gampaha.

The event was held under the patronage of President Sirisena and under the direction of the President Task Force on poverty alleviation, the President's Media Division (PMD) said.

In the last year, grants amounting to Rs 47 million were provided to Gramashakthi societies in the Colombo District and, 39 million rupees has been provided for the Gampaha district and 42 million rupees for the Kalutara district.

Colombo District has a poverty index of 0.9% of the total 2,343,000. The Gampaha District of which the population is 2,372,000, there is a poverty index of 2.0% and the poverty index of the Kalutara district which has 1,281,000 is 2.9%, according to the PMD.

In the last year, the 'Gramashakthi People's Movement' program launched a program to uplift the economic standards of those poor people in the country, the PMD continued. The progress of the programs and their future plans were discussed at the steering committee meeting held today.

The meeting was held with the participation of the political authorities of the province and public officials. It is to provide immediate solutions to the problems faced by the people in the province, the PMD said.

Several new agreements were to be signed between the Gramashakthi society and several private companies of the Western Province, for the purchase of new products in the village societies.

The PMD further said that the Gramashakthi Program has several variations in social welfare programs so far. This program was compiled after studying all the programs conducted so far, such as Janasaviya, Samurdhi and Divi Neguma. "Gramashakthi Program is functioning as a progressive and people friendly program.

For the first time, the Gramashakthi People's Movement has acted to give the people the opportunity to join a collective decision-making process, rather than swayed by the bureaucracy. All decisions regarding the development of the village are being made by rural societies under Gramashakthi, the PMD added.

Social incentivized programs so far have encouraged the people to obtain financial or other assistance from the government, the PMD continued.

Is it OK for large chicken producers to represent themselves as small-scale farmers? -

Posted: 23 Feb 2019 12:00 PM PST


Organic chicken farmers say large chook business Brinks' new brand will cause confusion for shoppers.

Chicken farmers Ben and George Bostock are taking legal action against one of the country's chicken giants, Brinks, alleging it has breached the Fair Trading Act.

Bostocks Brothers, owned by the Bostocks and Bostock Group, had lawyers send a letter on December 4 asking Brinks to change the branding on its George and Jo's brand. Brinks has yet to respond.

The Bostocks started their company five years ago, based on sustainable farming and raising organic free range chickens housed in chalets on an apple orchard.

Brinks is one of the big three producers in New Zealand, including Tegel, which owns the Rangitikei free range brand, and Inghams, which owns the Waitoa free range brand. Sheridan said Brinks has 18 per cent of the total chicken market.

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The brothers allege that Brinks' free range antibiotic-free brand, George and Jo's, misrepresents the product to consumers. The brand was launched last year and sports a logo with a sketch of a happy, but fictitious, farming couple.

"Our key concerns are that Brinks are representing to consumers that George and Jo's are real chicken farmers when in fact they are fictitious characters. They are also implying they're a small, family-run business like Bostock Brothers with their deliberately chosen, family-feel branding, when in fact it is a large-scale commercial operation," Ben Bostock said.

Michael Sheridan, chief operating officer of Van Den Brink Group, owners of the Brinks brand, said it had worked hard to achieve a "completely antibiotic free flock without use of organics," and at a "more affordable price point," a first of its kind product in New Zealand. 

George Bostock said that not only was the George and Jo's logo similar to Bostocks, a sketch of the brothers as children, but that using the name George was causing confusion for consumers. 

Ben and George Bostock, co-owners of Bostock Brothers.


Ben and George Bostock, co-owners of Bostock Brothers.

Sheridan said that Brinks worked with an experienced design and brand company for the creation of George and Jo's, and lots of names were considered.

George was ultimately chosen because it has its origin in the greek word for farmer. He said that George and Jo were "representations" of the farmers that grow their antibiotic-free chickens.

Brinks also claims that its George and Jo's logo was created in March last year and signed off in May, before Bostock Brothers launched its own rebrand.

Bostocks Brothers launched its new name and logo in July.

Bostock Brothers organic chickens are raised in chalets in an apple orchard, in Hawkes Bay.


Bostock Brothers organic chickens are raised in chalets in an apple orchard, in Hawkes Bay.

Brinks' George and Jo's branding appeared in shops thee months later, Ben Bostock said.

Associate professor of commercial law at Auckland University, Alex Simms, said that there was no monopoly on the colour green used by both brands, which was often used for implying environmentally friendly or healthy products.

Equally, there is no monopoly on the name George, but there are "a whole lot of male names you could use, so why pick George? It's not breaching the law but it's treading on toes," she said.

Sheridan said that the design and branding agency Brinks worked with didn't know George Bostock by name or connect it to the Bostocks, but Bostocks Brothers spokeswoman Catherine Wedd, was sceptical, pointing out that the first thing a company does when launching a brand is research competitors.

Ben Bostock said that the company was not alleging Brinks directly copied its logo.

"Fundamentally this is a Fair Trading Act issue, not a trade mark issue."

Bostocks argues that the chickens are owned and supplied by Brinks, and are "contract grown", a claim Brinks denies.

"Our George and Jo's chickens come from four farms. Our farmers would prefer to stay out of the spotlight and were happy to be marketed under the George & Jo's name," Sheridan said, pointing out that they were independently owned farms and produced around 166,000 chickens a week of the total of 500,000 across the Brinks operation.

"We are the faces behind our brand and feel its really unfair that a large chicken producer is trying to imitate what we do and mislead consumers," said Ben and George Bostock.


"We are the faces behind our brand and feel its really unfair that a large chicken producer is trying to imitate what we do and mislead consumers," said Ben and George Bostock.

According to recent figures from the Poultry Industry Association New Zealand produces nearly 100 million chickens a year with free range chicken making up about 20 per cent of the market, and organic chicken less than 1 per cent.

The Bostocks have calculated the company has just 0.4 per cent of the total market, compared to Brinks' 18 per cent.

Simms said that while it was standard practice for large brands to create sub-brands for different offerings, and that it was not "clandestine", there was a wider piece to be considered about the way things were marketed. 

"If consumers are wanting to support smaller business, they need to do their homework," she says.

George Bostock said the brothers had "worked really hard to build trust and respect for our ethical farming practises. We are the faces behind our brand and feel its really unfair that a large chicken producer is trying to imitate what we do and mislead consumers".

"It's unbelievable that they have adopted my name, George, and are trying to pass themselves off as real, when in fact they are fake people," he said.

In Britain supermarket chain Tescos came under fire in 2017 for using fake farm names like Woodside Farm and Boswell Farm for their cheap own-brand meat products.

The logo for George and Jo's free range chicken has similarities with the Bostocks Brothers logo, as well as using the name George for one of the fictional farmers, Ben and George Bostock said.


The logo for George and Jo's free range chicken has similarities with the Bostocks Brothers logo, as well as using the name George for one of the fictional farmers, Ben and George Bostock said.

"It is a live issue," Simms said. "Just because it happens overseas doesn't mean its been litigated before and it doesn't mean they aren't breaching the law. Until you go to a court, you don't know.

"This is an interesting test case with much wider implications than just Bostocks," she said.

The British "Total Bull" campaign argued that this kind of marketing was disingenuous, giving the consumer the impression that the produce came from "real" small scale farms when in fact it was produced intensively, while hurting small scale producers.

In 2016, Lewis Road Creamery, a boutique milk producer, took Fonterra to court for its branding of its Kapiti sub-brand, which it argued would confuse shoppers due to clear similarities. The stoush ended when Fonterra changed its branding in 2017.

Lewis Road took issue with Fonterra's Kapiti milk branding in 2016.


Lewis Road took issue with Fonterra's Kapiti milk branding in 2016.

"We welcome competition, but we feel Brinks should use their own name and not try and imitate our brand and all our hard work," Ben Bostock said. 

Sheridan said was not about big versus little company, and both brands were family businesses owned - at least in part - by parent groups.

"They have chosen to farm organically, which we don't, but we have the greatest respect for what they have achieved," he said.


Cuba votes on updated constitution, accepts private property - Seymour Tribune

Posted: 24 Feb 2019 09:42 AM PST

HAVANA — Cubans were asked Sunday to send an overwhelming message of approval for the country's communist system as its founding generation of geriatric former guerrillas cedes the public spotlight to a new class of middle-aged bureaucrats.

Voters were expected to overwhelmingly approve the draft of a new constitution that preserves the single-party socialist system and centrally planned economy while making some updates. The new constitution recognizes private and cooperative businesses alongside state ones, creates the posts of prime minister and provincial governor, and introduces the presumption of innocence and habeas corpus to the justice system.

The only open question was how overwhelming the "yes" vote would be. The current constitution was approved by 97.7 percent of voters in a referendum in 1976, the peak of a system dedicated to displays of national unity achieved through a blend of consensus-building and coercion.

Forty-three years later, Cuba is one of the world's last communist nations, its economy is faltering, its population shrinking and the percentage of "no" votes is expected to be small but significant when results are released Monday.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government waged a non-stop campaign promoting a "yes" vote and tarring those voting "no" as counterrevolutionaries and enemies of the state.

"I came to vote for the constitution of my country, for the rights we Cubans have to defend, for continuity and our revolutionary process," said one voter, Januarys Molina, 34.

Aside from a few independent websites, all Cuban media is state-run and the airwaves were filled with messages urging people to approve the new constitution for the sake of continuity on the island. In recent days, those messages were mixed with words of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as tensions rise between Cuba's main ally and the Trump administration, along with Latin American allies who support the Venezuelan opposition and its attempt to force aid into the country.

"We're living a moment of imperialist menace," Diaz-Canel told reporters after voting Sunday morning. "What they're applying in Venezuela can be applied in any place in the world."

Diaz-Canel's predecessor, 87-year-old Communist Party head Raul Castro, was shown voting in footage on state TV that didn't include comments to state media on the scene.

The largest block of "no" votes could come from the growing ranks of evangelical Christians in Cuba, who object to language that eliminates a requirement for marriage to be only between a man and woman, paving the way for a future legalization of gay marriage.

Cuban dissidents reached out to the growing number of people who have internet access on the island, urging them to vote "no" or boycott the vote altogether.

Both Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Vice President Mike Pence attacked the vote as illegitimate in Twitter statements Sunday.

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